Eat up (without fattening the tax man)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Dale Trembley, who works in the 49erCard and Meal Plans Office, suggested we post a penny-wise refresher course on the 49er Account because, he says, “According to our reports, there are so many people using the 49er Account [in retail dining] who are unnecessarily wasting money in taxes.” Thanks Dale, here goes:

The 49er Account is a pre-paid convenience account, good all over campus for products and services. The 49er Account can be used at the Barnes & Noble at UNC Charlotte Bookstore, REPROS Copy Center, NinerTech store and Campus Salon. You can use the account for laundry machines in the residence halls and pay-for-print stations in the library and labs. You can buy stamps at Mail & Package Services and balloons or wide-format prints at Union Station. And yes, you can use your 49erAccount in every dining venue and Outtakes convenience store on campus.

However, it’s cheaper to use ODA (Optional Dining Account) funds for campus dining because ODA is exempt from sales tax. Using ODA instead of the 49er Account for food purchases saves 8.25¢ on every dollar. That adds up!

For example, if you buy lunch at Chick-fil-A with your ODA Account, that purchase isn't charged sales tax. Why? Because ODA is a type of meal plan and meal plans are not subject to N.C. sales tax. That same chicken sandwich combo purchased with 49er Account funds will cost you 8.25% more. The 49er Account is not a meal plan and therefore not tax exempt.

Both the 49er Account and an ODA Account reside on your 49er ID Card. (This is probably where the confusion begins.) Just remember, the 49er Account is a good way to pay for products and services on campus but ODA is a thriftier choice for campus dining and snacks and groceries from Outtakes. ODA - best for food; 49erAcct - best for other things.

To maximize your campus dining saving, consider a “best value” ODA purchase like the Charlotte 300. With a $300 deposit to ODA, you’ll not only save $24.75 in sales tax, you’ll also receive 3 free meal swipes to Crown Commons or RDH. That would save up to an additional $28.20, yielding a total savings of $52.95. ODA does not expire; unspent funds roll over semester to semester, year to year. (Charlotte 300 and 500 purchase info.

For questions about the 49er Account and Meal Plans, write 49ercard@uncc.edu or call 704-687-7337. You can even ask for Dale!