What Part of ‘Tax Free’ Is Missing?

Firstly, I would like to apologize for the lack of posts over the past few days. But we have something that I think will make up for that.

One of the things that we were told on our campus tour, during orientation, Welcome Week our freshman year, and when looking at pages such as the Winthrop University Cafe Cash page and Campus Dish is that you will receive an 8% discount when you use Cafe Cash instead of some other form of money. However, this does not seem to be the case. Which begs the question, if students are being given an 8% discount where is it? And if not, why does everyone in the university insist on telling us that the discount exists?

Currently, Winthrop University has around 6,300 total students, around 5,000 of which are undergraduates. Winthrop’s own numbers say that 42% of which live on campus. And since everyone who lives on campus is required to have a meal plan, that means every student has at least $100 in Cafe Cash. Assuming that every student uses all $100, then Winthrop University Dining Services are taking $8 per person (or $17172.96 for the 42% of undergraduates who live on campus) that is unaccounted for.

But not everyone has the unlimited meal plan. The meal plan with the most Cafe Cash which is available to all students has $275 in Cafe Cash. If everyone had this plan Winthrop would be taking $47,225.64 from the students. And finally, consider the Courtyard meal plan. It has $720 in Cafe Cash, which means that $57.60 is taken per student.

Another group of students to be considered is the commuters who buy Cafe Cash in order to purchase meals while on campus. A student who buys around $60 a week in Cafe Cash will be charged $4.80 in tax (that again, we’ve been told is not there). Over the course of a semester this student will lose around $76.80 in Cafe Cash from the tax. Remember, this is from one student out of the 58% of undergraduates who live off campus.

And we haven’t even started talking about the 255 faculty members. They can use Cafe Cash too.

After running the numbers every way I can think of, I can’t find where that 8% discount is hiding. Is it in an 8% discount on the arbitrary price of items? Because that is the only thing that makes sense.

Something else to consider though is this: York County sales tax is only 7%. Why is Winthrop charging us 8%?

But really, the question is why is Winthrop charging us sales tax at all after making such a point of telling future and current students that this would not happen?

We are awaiting a reply from Dining Services to answer the question of where that 8% discount exists, but we aren’t expecting anything. However, if it does happen we will share that information with you.

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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Are you serious? This is just crazy. I mean, damn! $17,000? That’s a lot of money.

    Any chance that students will be able to get back the money that went towards taxes?

  2. That is great information, well thought out, but you were unfortunately misinformed- whoever told you that is wrong…employees are supposed to get the tax free cafe cash, not students. We receive other benefits that employees don’t get such as free access to the West Center (faculty has to pay a membership fee).

  3. Check the Campus Dish page that I linked to in the article. It says right there that we are supposed to get an 8% discount.

  4. […] was also a comment found on the other day’s article saying that we were mistaken in our conclusion that students are supposed to get tax free Cafe […]

  5. From what I’ve noticed, whenever the cashiers ring up your purchase it will display the total with the tax included for those who may be paying with cash. If you’re paying with Cafe Cash though, it still displays the total including tax, but if you know your previous cash balance and subtract the amount of your purchase without the tax it should match your remaining balance displayed on your receipt. Granted, you usually have to ask the cashier for a receipt. Anyways, I have never noticed being charged tax the few times I actually checked the math.

  6. The question is, when have you actually checked the math. When I’ve checked things, I was charged tax. Maybe they’ve gotten their act together, but we stand by the fact that in the past students have been charged tax when using Cafe Cash.

  7. […] articles outlining how Cafe Cash isn’t really tax free ruffled a few feathers (as seen here, here, and here). Looks like Winthrop doesn’t want to have anything to do with this little […]


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