Sales So Taxing
Living in Oregon we don’t know much about sales taxes. That basically means we’re idiots. We’d rather pay a higher income tax than allow tourism pick up a part of our tab. You know, like we do when we visit most other states. Oregonians are rabidly opposed to the concept of a sales tax, which is understandable, but it only ends up shooting us in the foot. Some would actually consider a sales tax if it was accompanied by offset of equal amount on our income taxes. Unfortunately no one trusts the politicians that much.
I have to admit, it is pretty nice to be given a receipt and pay what’s show on the receipt. Too bad all states don’t do it that way. If my bill in an Oregon restaurant is $19.73 then that’s exactly what I pay. And I tip on that amount. Simple. Easy.
Occasionally we make a kibble run across the Washington border. It’s just a hop, skip and a jump across over mighty Columbia River. We don’t do it often, though, since it is means making a cash contribution of 8.4% to our neighbors to the north when they don’t do the same thing for us.
Correction: The current sales tax in Vancouver, WA, is 8.400 percent. Isn’t it funny how sales tax are one of those things that always get calculated to that fifth digit of precision?
This morning, though, I decided to grab some breakfast in downtown Vancouver. I’ve reproduced our ticket from the meal in the image to the right. Yes, I used the Comics Sans font because the situation fucking demands it.
- $1.75 for a cup of diner coffee? Pro: Free refiles. Cons: That’s the same price as a small black coffee at Starbucks except it was barely quaffable.
- Note that the location for “tax” is left blank even though we’re in a taxing situation.
No tax shown? What’s up with that? Don’t they have to tell you?
Then comes the credit card receipt. Although we were told our meal was $19.73 the amount on the receipt is $21.39. What magic is this? Logic and math skills dictate that the amount of tax must have been $1.66. I can’t quite do the division in my head but that pencils out to be a tax rate of 8.4316 percent.
What the hell? Turns out the actual tax was $1.65732 so they rounded it up to the nearest penny. Voila! A higher tax rate is born. As far as I’m concerned the great State of Washington now owes me $0.00268. Can I put on a lien on their ass?
That, however, is not the point. Take a careful look at that receipt. What, exactly, is being asked of me? If one isn’t careful, one might assume that the tip is supposed to be a function of $21.39. Remember, that’s the price of the meal bloated with the added taxation.
Is this some sort of VAT situation? (Just like the food?) What’s “value added” here? Not only did you get me to offset your income taxes with my sales tax donation, but you expect me to voluntarily pay extra for the privilege? Is this a vigorish? Is some guy named Guido in the back going to break my legs if I don’t comply? Does the house always have to win?
In this particular situation I tipped 20 percent. Based on my sales volume, the difference between tipping on the pre-tax amount (or not) is only 33 cents. Either way, it’s not a big deal. But, to me, it’s the principle of the thing. I tipped 20 percent. But if my server looks at it the wrong way, she’ll be thinking it was only 18 percent.
What do you think? Do you tip based on the overall total or the pre-tax amount? Or, like me, are you simply going to shun all states with sales taxes?
Two scoops of poop
I recently found myself at a Native American gaming facility. (Is that preferable to “Indian Casino” or does it make a difference?) After parking my keister in front of an idiotic machine for a few hours of “entertainment” I walked away with a 10 percent increase in my net worth. (No, I didn’t make a mistake here. I didn’t mean to say “bankroll.” I literally mean my net worth.)
In other words I started with $20 and and ended up with $22. Now that is ROI, baby. Woot.
The penny slot machine I was playing would pay about $1,800 if you hit the “progressive” jackpot while playing at least five lines. That’s five cents a spin. A little rich for my blood but I tried it for a while. And to cut any sense of drama short, no, I did not land a “jackpot” for the first time in my life.
To win the jackpot one must score the special symbol on all three wheels and on the same payline at the same time. I naturally found myself curious about the odds.
That wheel looked big. The don’t tell you exactly how big so I can only guess. I estimated that it might have 20 to 100 locations on it. Yes, the blank spots between the artwork count, too, those snarky bastards.
If the wheels had 20 spots I calculated the odds of a jackpot at one in 8,000. No way. That’s way too low.
How did I calculate that? It’s easy. Just multiply 20 (the estimated number of spots per wheel) by itself three times (the number of wheels). 20 times 20 times 20 equals 8,000. Viola!
If the wheels have 50 spots the odds jumped to 1 in 125,000. Now we’re getting somewhere.
If the wheels have 80 spots the odds are an astronomical 1 in 512,000. That’s approximately one jackpot in every half million spins. In other words, if I visited the casino and did 3,000 spins per day, it would take me, on average, about 170 days to get a jackpot. Since I only go to the casino about four times a year, that works out to be about 42 years at my current rate of play.
I’m not holding my breath. 🙂
By the way, the calculations above assume that the slot machine is “fair.” In other words, that the odds of the special symbol showing up is really the same as every other space on the wheel. I have no idea of knowing if that is true or not. Something tells me that in this era of computer-generated outcomes on gaming machines that the mathematics won’t work out just like that. Shouldn’t the operators of gaming machines be required to tell you the odds?
Here comes the awkward segue…
I have two kitty cats. I’m in charge of scooping doody duty. We initially bought a plastic scoop. It turns out that thing is literally a piece of shit. If I could somehow find the people who made that thing (AKA the people who got my money) I’d have a thing or two to tell them. I imagine I might find them in China.
Anywho, we decided we had gone cheap on the wrong household tool. The plastic scoop was literally falling apart. My wife and I tried, during the span of a few months, to hit the local pet store when we were out on the town. The store was always closed. Nothing ever seemed to work out.
Yesterday, however, we went in our separate ways. Later in the day when we met back in the house, we both had a shiny new metal scooper. After months of wanting one somehow it worked out that we both bought one on the very same day.
I found myself thinking, “What in the hell are the odds of that?” Assuming there are 363 days in a year (the pet store is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas) and there are only two of us, the equation to calculate these odds is: 365 times 365 = 131,769.
Something tells me instead of a damn pooper scooper we should have purchased lotto tickets yesterday.