A group of child-care advocates in Seattle are seeking to raise additional money for early education programs through a 10-cent tax on espresso drinks. Koffee Klatch Targeted for Taxation

We’ve heard of some desperate attempts to identify new funding sources in cities and states facing record budget shortfalls, but this one truly takes the cake. (Coffee cake, that is.)

From the city that brought us the Frappuccino, a group of child-care advocates in Seattle are seeking to raise additional money for early education programs through a 10-cent tax on espresso drinks.

The Early Learning and Care Committee, which is made up of parents, teachers and child-care directors, has until August to collect the roughly 17,000 signatures needed to place the espresso-tax issue on November’s ballot. According to the proposal, the tax would be levied on all espresso beverages sold at businesses that gross more than $50,000 annually (lest anyone argue the tax would be regressive, drip coffee is exempt). Proponents estimate the plan would raise nearly $10 million a year, which would provide raises to child-care teachers and offer child care to low and middle-income families.

Like grunge music and high-priced latte, this could start a trend that sweeps the nation faster than a Starbucks franchise. Philly could follow suit with a sin tax on cheesesteaks. Boston could slap a tariff on clam chowda. In Chicago, kielbasa-eaters could be taxed a penny a Rolaid. And in Los Angeles, no one would raise an eyebrow at paying a premium on botox.

Hey, as long as it’s "for the kids," right?

As Melissa Petersen, barista at Diva Espresso put it to the Associated Press, "They’ve got a smoking tax, regular taxes, why not a yuppie tax?"

In revolt, perhaps a modern day Samuel Adams in Bruno Magli loafers will lead thousands of angry yuppies in throwing recycled paper cups of frothy cappuccinos into the Puget Sound.

June 12, 2002
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