The first thing we are going to do to find the total cost of the meal before tax:

Total cost before tax = $8.99 + 2($14.99) + $12.99 + 3($1.99)

Total cost before tax = $8.99 + $29.98 + 12.99 + $5.97

Total cost before tax = $57.93

Regarding the 15% gratuity, remember that the unofficial rule for tipping at restaurants is to tip according to the actual value of the meal and not the tax, so we calculate the value of the tip first, and then we add it to the total at the end of our calculations.

Tip = 15%($57.93) = $8.69

Now, lets calculate the tax

Tax = 7.5%($57.93) = $4.34

Finally, we can calculate the total cost of the meal

Total cost = cost before tax + tip + tax

Total cost = $57.93 + $8.69 + $4.34 = $70.96

We can conclude that the correct answer is a. $70.96