Sin Taxes

In today's edition of the Kansas City Star I read this comment about the increase in taxes on cigarettes to cover uninsured children:
“We don’t understand how cigarettes should be paying for children’s health care,” said Rhonda Bowles, manager of the Tobacco House, a smoke shop in North Kansas City.

“Here we thought we had a smoker in the White House, someone on our side,” Bowles said, referring to President Barack Obama’s history of cigarette smoking.
This got me to thinking about how government often excessively taxes items like liquor and cigarettes but does not tax other "sins" like gambling (anyone buy a Lotto ticket lately?), gluttony (yes, some do want to tax junk food) and greed (how would they tax that?).

Do you think that it is right to tax cigarettes because of the burden that smoking puts on our health care costs? If so do you also support other sin taxes? One could argue that the cost of gambling on society is a large and provable one.. and there seems to be a somewhat direct correlation between junk food and bad health. Should things be taxed higher for the good of the nation?

I think that this kind of taxation is a slippery slope. While I do not smoke, and I see the rationale in elevated taxes on smokers, I have to admit that I see a bit of hypocrisy in these kind of taxes. If our government believes what the Surgeon General says about smoking then why not just shut down the tobacco industry. If they cannot then let the free market determine the fate of that industry by increasing health insurance premiums and medical costs for people who smoke.

Gotta wonder.. using this rationale.. what will they tax next? Potato chips? Pork rinds? Soft drinks? Bacon (oh no, not that!)?

I mean really, why does the government have to 'fix' this with taxes?


  1. KB, we don't have any sales tax in NH, but in TX they do tax junk food! In NH, all hard liquors must be purchased from State Stores - so the state sales it cheaper than the commercial stores and keeps the profits. Lotto sales basically ARE voluntary tax payments, and gambling income over $500 is highly taxable.

    It seems the gov't taxes the things people will still buy, regardless of taxation or price. They tax addictions - it's a reliable income source. Ask any dealer. ;)

    We should find a way to tax gossip. :)

  2. "voluntary tax payments"

    I love that Missy!

    Maybe that is really what a lot of this is all about.. benefiting from the weaknesses of citizens.

    Just don't tax my bacon!

  3. I don't smoke cigarettes, but I hate the idea of a "sin tax". It's like saying "We need money. But, we don't want to pay it. So, let's tax THOSE people. They shouldn't be smoking anyway. It'll teach 'em a lesson."

  4. Hey KB,

    Remember Otis on the Andy Griffith show? Pretty much everyone thought he was pretty funny. Can you imagine having an Otis in a show today: your show would be ousted in less than a week!

    Drinking and smoking have both been villified and as such politicians can 'tax' it in a Draconian manner and score a win-win-win:

    1) They can claim that they are fighting against society's evils. Taking a higher moral ground. Afterall it is in the interest of 'the children'.

    2) They can collect a hefty profit for their effort. A revenue source that will never be broken.

    3) They can also claim they are helping the 'sinners' by bringing finances into their consideration for their bad habbits. Maybe casinos should do this: like making the odds worse on the slots to 'deter' people from gambling. Oh wait! I'm sure that would go over too well.

    If tobacco and booze were as 'evil' as they paint it, then why don't they just illegalize it?

    It is also for this reason that they haven't legalized marijuana and just tax the tar out of it: no one wants to go on the record as the man who legalized the stuff, but if they could figure out a way to do it, and still say they were opposed to it, I bet they would.

    All the while, many people are cluelessly thinking. 'Yeah' stick to the 'sinners' That politician is doing a 'good thing'.

    While I am not a smoker and only drink on very rare ocasions (like wedding toasts, etc), I am strongly opposed to levy-ing a tax on these items. To me this is all just feeding this big government monster who is like the plant in little shop of horrors.

    Speeding tickets are another example of this. It is awfully convenient that the revenue from these tickets benefit the police force. In my opinion the revenue from speeding tickets should go completely to education: not a single penny for the police force. If this were done, I predict that the Police would stop purchasing fancy radar equipment and planes to catch people who are commiting an alledged crime with no victim. They would instead focus on catching criminals with actual victims.

    You hit on where this is going. Now overweight people are the new evil: surely we must punish these fat-people for their blatant sins. The airlines are firing the first volley on this.

    It is only time before organized religion is the new villian and there will be taxes on Bibles, communion chips, and Hymnals.

    Ultimately, all of this is just the politicians vehicle for taking in more revenue; making themselves sound 'tough' on some issue, but really not addressing the issue at all.

    Wow I sound bitter! lol. I'm not really. But I am very wary of politicians and their 'crafty' ways.

    God Bless

  5. Great points.. guess some feel it is okay to tax sin as long as it is not their sin :)

  6. Wasn't that why Jesus said 'Let he who is without sin cast the first stone!'?

    Man that guy rocked! I want to be more like Him! ;)

    God Bless


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