Tag Archives: tax

Caesar Can Get Bent

[BSMETER.GIF]What a crock.

"Did you buy anything through the Internet last year without paying sales tax at the time? If you did, state tax collectors warn that you’d better say so by April 17 and write a check–or else."

"Online purchases from sites like Amazon.com and eBay may seem to arrive in a state of untaxed bliss. But the law actually requires shoppers to pay their own state’s sales tax rate–the concept is called a ‘use tax‘–and voluntarily cough up the exact amount owed each year at tax time."

"Tax bureaucrats for years have lamented the difficulty of collecting use taxes on catalog and mail order sales. Now, with online shopping growing rapidly and nearing $100 billion a year in consumer sales, tax collectors are adopting more aggressive tactics."

"New York state has added a line to income tax returns requiring all residents to calculate how much they should pay on Internet, mail order or out-of-state purchases. The threat is explicit: Anyone who creatively underestimates will face stiff penalties if an audit occurs."

If Amazon.com, et al., start charging sales tax, I won’t be thrilled, but it won’t stop me from buying from stores on the net.  Why isn’t that being done?  Expecting folks to tax themselves is asinine.

Screwed Up Priorities

Which of these is more likely to help poor people, cheap groceries or cheap cigarettes? Groceries, right? Tell that to Mississippi’s Republican Gov. Haley Barbour.

Addendum 03/20/06:  Since Publius doesn’t care for my "self-righteous indignation over an evil, greedy Republican supposedly screwing the little guy to benefit evil, murderous tobacco companies", I’ve decided to explain what I thought was so obviously screwed up in these priorities.  I have no desire to "soak the poor while at the same time looking liberal".  I do, however, wish to be compassionate, and I do not believe that Gov. Barbour made a compassionate choice.

Given a choice between lowering taxes on necessities, like groceries, or a non-necessity that causes health problems, some deadly, for users and those around them, which cause increases in everyone’s insurance premiums, I’d think anyone with more than sawdust for brains would choose groceries.  Publius and some folks in the comboxes have suggested that no matter how steep the tax on smokes got, poor people would still buy them, which certainly wouldn’t help them become any less poor.  If all we were talking about was raising the tobacco tax, I might agree with them that little good would come from it.  However, Gov. Barbour had an opportunity to sign a bill into law that would not only raise the tobacco tax, but also lower the grovery tax.  It seems to me that at worst poor people would break even in that scenario; what they’d save on groveries, they’d spend on smokes.  Meanwhile, those who don’t smoke might be able to buy something nutricious for their families.  On a side note, I’d like to point out that PA, a state whose legislature is full of selfish asshats, does at least one thing right by having the decency to not tax groceries.  Taxing necessities – how retarded is that?!?

"I have a close family member who would really feel the crunch if over 80¢ were added to the cigarette tax in Virginia — and there’s no way she’d quit over it."  So says Publius.  "In Chicago, where I spent last week, a pack of cheap smokes is $7.50. Yet the po’ folks there still buy fags before food." So says Tom Smith.  "[I]if it means cutting out just one meal a day to buy a pack of smokes… i would have done it and i know plenty other smokers who would too. Case in point: i work with several guys who never have enough money for lunch, but they always have plenty of smokes." So says Squat.

Am I supposed to have sympathy for such fools?  I feel sad for them that they’d rather smoke away their lives than eat and I’ll pray that they come to their senses.  I’ll also pray that tobacco companies take it up the wazoo for deliberately addicting people.  I feel bad that they’ve been exploited and manipulated.  However, they still have free will.  As far as I’m concerned, a tobacco tax is a stupidity tax.  If you can’t figure out that food is more important than smokes, don’t come whining to me about how you don’t have enough money to feed yourself.  Forest gump had it right.; stupid is as stupid does.

That said, I’m not a fan of "sin taxes", i.e. taxes on undesirable behavior.  I prefer tax relief for desirable behavior.  That’s easier to implement in income taxes than sales taxes, though.  Still, I don’t much care for the government chiding folks for smoking, drinking exessively, etc. while profiting from those same activities.  In the case of tobacco, perhaps a decent comprimise would be to use cigarette tax proceeds for anti-smoking and smoking cessation programs.

One more thing: don’t give me a sob story about how taxing cigarettes hurts the tobacco industry.  I don’t care.  Making abortion illegal, or at least rarer, would hurt the abortion industry.  Boo-hoo.  I wouldn’t give a flying fig if Big Tobacco just curled up and died.

Act 72

Pennsylvanian legislators have developed a plan for reducing school taxes. The alternate
source of revenue would be slot machine profits. In order to take part in this program,
called Act 72, school districts must opt in and lose some property tax revenue.
The deadline for opting in is May 30. For
various reasons, many districts are giving Act 72 a pass
. I don’t blame them.

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Up in Smoke

I, for one, whole-heartedly support the cigarette tax. I consider it a tax on stupidity. Anybody stupid enough to risk cancer, emphesema, and other nastiness and rude enough to expose others to it, deserves to pay and arm and a leg for their death-sticks. (NOTE: My grandfather died after a decade of misery that resulted directly from 50+ years of smoking. Depsite this, his sons still smoke.) If nicotine really is as addictive as smokers will say when confronted about their stupid habit (and I suspect it is), then it should be a controlled substance.

States Brace for Cigarette Backlash

"As state after deficit-ridden state ratchets up cigarette taxes, authorities are bracing for some unwelcome consequences in the form of more aggressive smuggling and bolder use of the Internet as a tax-evading tobacco shop."

"Never before have so many states — 17 this year alone — approved cigarette-tax hikes in such a short time. Anti-smoking advocates call it a win-win situation, enabling states to reduce smoking and budget deficits simultaneously."