Nancy Drew and the Missing Cafe Cash

For many people, eight percent of a bill isn’t that big of a deal. It’s something you don’t notice, a mild irritation. This is what has happened with our café cash system. Students are told that café cash is tax free, however, upon coming to the university and using café cash, they find out it isn’t. Big deal, there are more important things to worry about.

But are there?

Over the course of a semester, (as stated in the article before this) at the very least $17,000 is lost in tax revenue for café cash. This does not include commuters, people who purchase more café cash, or faculty. So, now that we know this money is gone, where is it going- and more importantly- WHY didn’t anyone notice where it went?

There are several theories, some more possible than others, some more fun than others. The first, and probably most applicable theory, involves a mistake. Winthrop actually has to pay taxes on café cash, yet decides (for some reason) to inform faculty/staff, students, and prospective students otherwise. No harm, no foul. Apologize to the students- maybe refund the money…

This was what I figured had happened- Winthrop lies to students and parents in order to look better…typical. However, when I heard of a correspondence between a student (who wishes to remain anonymous) and the Director of Dining Services, I read “You should not be charged sales tax when you make a purchase with Cafe Cash”. In the correspondence, the director offers several solutions, outlined in articles to come.

This makes me think that Winthrop is actually telling the truth about café cash being tax free. So… why isn’t it? There could be several solutions. The least fun (but most likely) is human error.

Let’s say the people working in Dinkins, Java City, and the Eagle Express stores aren’t really paying attention and charge you sales tax… for the majority of 3 semesters, in my case. The people who have been working there don’t bother with this policy because no one complains, and they don’t train the new people to null tax when people use café cash.

In this case, the extra $17,000+ probably goes to the state with all Winthrop’s other sales tax. But how could no one notice a surplus of that much? Conspiracy theorists will say someone’s benefiting from this ‘mistake’. What’s probably happening is the extra money is cushioning Winthrop’s budget, helping Winthrop not have to pay all of the taxes it owes, instead, going towards pay raises, etc.

We know that there’s a problem, probably in the training of the cashiers. Because of the lack of public records, it is difficult to be sure about where the money is going and not venture into slander/libel land. Even though there’s no way to know where the money is going without sheer speculation- however, such speculation is good for one thing: Dinner Conversation.

Enjoy- and next time you spend that café cash, make sure you don’t pay tax.

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Published in: on 8 November 2007 at 11:59 am  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. I’m glad you found something out. And more importantly, I’m glad there might be something we can do about it.


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