Saturday, March 30, 2002

taxing ideas
Delaware, like many other states, is experiencing a time of financial difficulty. It probably doesn't hurt to see what some other states are doing, and have done in the past, to overcome times of economic disadvantage. I don't know if people in Delaware would consider following up on the tax ideas coming out of California. If nothing else, considering them might spark some debate on the role of a taxing body as a social engineer.

A panel studying cancer put together by Governor Minner recently made a number of recommendations, including a tax on cigarettes. California is also thinking of increased taxes on cigarettes and alcohol. But they have some other ideas on items to tax.

One is a five cents per bullet tax to aid California trauma centers.

Some other taxes being looked into in California include a soda tax to help fight obesity in children, and a junk food tax to use to to pay for dental and health services, also for juveniles.

Whatever Delaware might decide to tax, a lesson from our neighboring State of New Jersey should be kept in mind, as our governor looks at ways to raise revenues. Do not tax toilet paper. Let me repeat that with periods between each word for added emphasis: Do.Not.Tax.Toilet.Paper.

Why? A lesson learned from Governor Florio of New Jersey almost a decade ago, as recited by one of the then Governor's aides:
Extending the sales tax to toilet paper didn't help. The plan had been to tax cable TV service, but the industry cleverly aired ads urging people to write their legislators in protest (reminding me of the old admonition never to argue with folks who buy ink by the barrel). Too bad for us; no one would have marched on the Statehouse tossing televisions like they did toilet paper.
I'm not certain that you could consider the taxing of toilet paper with the other items above as a sin tax, to be used to both raise revenue for the State, and to shape society in some fashion. But, in a country with a history of demonstrations against taxes like the Boston Tea Party, I don't know that I want to see a Dover Toilet Paper Party.

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