Eight percent? Or 10%?
Weekly Playboy (Oct 7) offers a report that might have been titled, “The lighter side of tax increases.” The bureaucrats hardly knew the confusion they sowed when they devised a well-intentioned formula to lighten the burden on the poor. The consumption tax rise from 8 to 10%, effective Oct 1, will not apply to food items not eaten at restaurants.
Food is essential. Restaurant dining is not. Let restaurant diners, then, be taxed at the new rate. Groceries, or take-out food, will continue to be taxed at 8%.
Suppose this situation, says Playboy: You dine at a kaiten sushi restaurant, eat half your fare on the premises and ask that the rest be packaged for consumption at home later. Eight percent? Or 10?
Ten. Next question?
At a hamburger restaurant, you order a hamburger lunch and a glass of juice. You drink the juice there, take the hamburger out. What then?
Juice: 10%. Hamburger: 8%.
You’re at an amusement park. You buy a snack at a kiosk. Where will you eat it? Sitting on a bench owned by the kiosk? Ten percent. On the bench five meters away operated by the park? Eight percent.
You enter a fast food restaurant. It’s crowded. You line up, reach the front, place your order. You’re asked, “Is this to eat in, or take out?”
Your order is ready. You’re handed your tray. Is there a free table? You thread your way inside, looking for a vacant table. There don’t seem to be any – but what’s this? This guy’s food is not on a tray but in a bag. The situation is clear: He told the cashier he was taking out, paid the 8% tax, and then grabbed a table. He was cheating the government of 2%, and you of a place. What to do? Confront him personally? Complain to a staff member and demand that he be ejected? Either way – a nuisance at best, a row at worst. Somebody might get hurt. People are edgy these days.
Some convenience stores with eat-in areas, Playboy says, will display posters reading, “If you’re eating in, please tell the cashier.” Those saying nothing will automatically be charged 8%. If they eat in after all, it will be an extraordinarily dedicated cashier who pursues the matter. Most will surely turn a blind eye: “Let the government lose its 2% for all I care.”
Some restaurants are meeting the challenge with ingenuity – expanding their take-out menus, or slightly raising the prices of eat-in fare so the customer pays the same either way. Be that as it may, the new system is bound to encourage take-out dining. Why not do it in comfort? Playboy introduces various possibilities – folding mats, folding tables, portable chairs. Legions of people will no doubt discover this fall how much more pleasant it can be to dine under a tree than in a crowded, noisy restaurant. The golden leaves of the season may be more admired this year than ever.
But October fades into November. Life moves indoors. Then, for many, there will be only one attitude that makes sense: resignation. It’s only 2%, after all.© Japan Today