Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Good Tax, Bad Tax. Brothel Tax, Food Tax.

Yesterday, The Yellow Line reported on Detroit’s plan to place a 2% tax on all fast food sold in the city. Today we hear word of another potential tax, this one to be levied on Nevada’s legal brothels.

First, while TYL called the Detroit tax an interesting idea, further thought has quickly revealed that this is a really stupid tax. First, how do you fairly decide what’s fast food? And if the objective is to raise money while deterring bad eating habits, do you tax Wendy’s hamburgers but not their salads? And why would you tax Burger King’s bacon cheeseburger but not TGI Friday’s bacon cheeseburger? Is fatty food less harmful when served by a waiter?

Administration of the tax aside, it is also incredibly regressive. As CBS news notes, poor people eat a lot more fast food than do wealthier people. So most of the new tax’s burden will fall on those least able to afford it. Why not just raise restaurant taxes and tax all diners equally? Once you think about it, a fast food tax is clearly a horrible idea

Taxing brothels on the other hand seems like a no-brainer. Apparently, Nevada doesn’t tax them so as to make it really easy to shut them down. In fact, that’s why the brothels are actually lobbying to be taxed—the idea being, the state won’t ever shut them down if it would mean losing millions in tax revenue.

Nevertheless, it seems pretty short-sighted not to tax brothels. Talk about a sin tax. Goodness knows the state taxes the pants off all of us who go to Vegas. Why the heck not tax the pants off all of those whose pants are already coming off in the brothels? TYL is not one to normally support new taxes, but this one seems like a pretty solid idea.


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