Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Sin Tax Explosion - Need Money? Tax Cigarettes

Here in Texas, the new year will start with the state increasing taxes on tobacco products once again. People and politicians have debated the wisdom of taxing tobacco and alcohol products, excessively, for years. In my state there has been an outcry, in recent years, about out-of-control increases in property taxes, so state leaders have found it necessary to find other sources of income for state services and you guessed it, they found their new source of money in another tax on tobacco products. Texas is a very, “red”, Republican state and the worst thing a politician can do down here is to suggest a state income tax or an increase in property taxes. This leaves state leaders with two choices; either cut back on state spending or find some other way to raise new money.

There are two popular ways to raise additional money, here in Texas. The first way is to increase the tax on alcohol and tobacco products and the other is to find new games for folks to play using the state lottery system. There is no state income tax in Texas, which is a very good thing, so politicians must find creative ways to get the money they need to run state services. Once again next year, there will be proposals in Austin to allow casino style gambling in Texas and most likely, once again that measure will fail. It is hard to understand a state government that thinks having a state lottery is OK, but is totally against casino gambling in a state the size of Texas.

Here in the central part of the state, hundreds of thousands of people drive to Louisiana and check into multimillion-dollar hotels when they want to gamble. Billions of dollars per year are leaving Texas and heading to Louisiana because state leaders refuse to allow casino gambling in our state. Rather than increasing the tax burden on homeowners or people who use, so called sin products, why not just let the gambling industry provide the money the state needs by allowing casino gambling and taxing the profits of these huge corporations? I believe that most state leaders are in favor of allowing casino gambling in Texas, but many powerful forces in the religious community are dead set against it.

Last night I saw a sign on the door of a convenience store letting customers know about the new tax on tobacco products starting in January. I feel sorry for those folks who work at these locations because they will hear all kinds of complaining from customers even though they had nothing to do with the increase. If the State of Texas believes that the best way to raise revenue is to tax the sinful behavior of people, then lets open up our state to casino gambling and tax the heck out of it, too. No one wants to pay higher taxes and the folks that don’t smoke or drink have no problem taxing others that do. In the same way, people who rent instead of owning property don’t care if property taxes go up because they don’t have to pay them. The truth is that the state will be forced to find money somewhere to run basic services, so why not let casino gambling foot the bill for many of these services?

Related: Hate Tax Increases, Big Brother Controls, Smokers Over Taxed, For The Children

Sin Tax Explosion

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