The tyranny of taxing ‘sin’

May 15, 2009

In the Christian Science Monitor, Tax Foundation Chief Economist Patrick Fleenor criticizes the flurry of proposals to use the tax code to punish certain behaviors:

Fleecing the minority is made much easier by an army of busybodies who make a comfortable living feeding “studies” to the media, proclaiming that Americans eat the wrong foods, drink the wrong beverages, don’t exercise enough, and are generally sinful. These modern-day Carrie Nations’ denunciations of nearly every commonplace pleasure – from Girl Scout Cookies to movie theater popcorn – are fodder for the nightly news.

To dispel the notion that their sin taxes go too far, the nanny-staters rely on a clever sleight-of-hand: Instead of pitching the tax as a punishment for sin, they claim they’re merely compensating society for costs imposed by bad habits. These claims are often unsupported by science, but many media repeat them without question.

Read the op-ed here.

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