A five-cent tax increase on all ASUCD commercial units‘ credit card transactions has been in effect since Jan. 1. The decision was passed by the University Rate Group on Jan. 23 without student approval or representation.
Michael Allred, associate vice chancellor of finance, said Accounting and Financial Services “would welcome student feedback” regarding the tax increase reported in Monday’s Aggie. The ASUCD Senate, however, did not learn of the tax until roughly two weeks ago.
It’s troubling that the University Rate Group can take the stance it welcomes student feedback without informing ASUCD of its decision. If the group wanted input from students, it should have informed them of the plan while it was in the works – not four months after it was put into effect.
The approach in creating the tax increase isn’t the only problem; implementation is also an issue.
The new tax will not be levied against Sodexho, a private company that manages the Dining Commons and the Silo. This is concerning because Sodexho essentially offers students the same services as the ASUCD Coffee House. It isn’t fair that ASUCD has to face this tax while Sodexho does not simply because it’s not an official UC Davis merchant.
Additionally, the five-cent tax per transaction is far too steep. ASUCD Business Manager Mark Champagne points out that $400 in textbook purchases would cost the Bookstore 4.56 cents per credit card transaction. A $1.40 cup of coffee at the Coho now carries an identical 4.56-cent fee. A fee such as this should be assessed as a percentage rather than as a flat rate.
While the policy is far less than ideal, it’s in affect and unlikely to be changed in the immediate future. The goal becomes finding alternatives.
A possible resolution would be bringing an ASUCD equivalent of Aggie Cash to the Coho. Students use credit cards because they’re convenient; it’s easier to use a card than to carry around cash. If students could use their ID cards to make purchases, they could start swiping them at the Coho instead.