A tax law affecting meal plans has left a sour taste in students’ mouths.
Over the summer, Governor Pat McCrory signed a tax reform set to take effect in January 2014. As a result of House Bill 998, students attending spring courses at any of the University of North Carolina accredited schools will feel the impact, as one part of the reform places a 6.75 percent sales tax on university meal plans.
Cash, CatCash, credit and debit cards will be charged at the point of sale, according to Student Government Association President and Member Ex Officio of the Board of Trustees Ryan Hermance.
“Students and administration are against the tax, and it is obvious why. It is going to cost students more money to eat, and the tax money goes straight back to the state. The school does not get to keep any of the tax dollars,” said Hermance.
The cost of meal plans has been adjusted to take the new tax into consideration, which had been a worry for students thinking they would get fewer bangs for their buck. For example, the unlimited Declining Balance meal plan adjusts from being $1,119 per semester to $1,194.53 for the spring semester onward, increasing only by approximately $75.
House Bill 998 works in a variety of other ways outside of the school setting. For example, lawmakers say it will give breaks to taxpayers once the bill is fully installed.
The same bill eliminated the tax free weekend held during the back-to-school season. By 2017, $1 billion in taxes will be cut according to Tax Foundation.
Both Western Carolina University’s meal plan homepage and tuition guidelines for the coming year make note of the changes in pricing and offer brief explanations of the laws.
Students who think they may not be able to afford the increased cost of meal plans are encouraged to visit Financial Aid and speak with a counselor to discuss their options.
“Students have come up and asked me if they have to pay taxes,” said student and Aramark worker Cory Shropshire. “I think it’s not a very good thing because students are already broke enough. I just don’t think it’s right; it doesn’t seem fair.”
Shropshire’s attitude seems to be shared among many other students. Students have taken to social media to express their opinions on the tax increase. The Facebook group Overheard at WCU is home to multiple complaints about the new tax reform, including calls for protests. Others mention that the tax on campus food is the same as being taxed for eating off campus.
Despite the general attitude of discontent, the tax will still be implemented in January. Information on the tax reform and how it impacts the university community is available online and through the school.
For more information on the meal plan change, visit the WCU Dining Service’s homepage at campusdish.com/en-US/CSSE/WesternCarolina/MealPlans or call Dining Services at 828-227-7396.
To read the bill in its entirety, visit ncleg.net/gascripts/BillLookUp/BillLookUp.pl?Session=2013&BillID=h998.