Thursday, November 16, 2006

Tax Revolt Coming - Sin Taxes Getting Out Of Control

A couple of days ago, I wrote about the upcoming increase in taxes on tobacco products here in Texas. Tonight, I read that note on the convenience store door a little bit closer and it said that all tobacco products will go up by $1.44 starting in January 2007. While this may seem reasonable to people who don’t smoke cigarettes, to those who do it means that a carton of cigarettes will increase by $14.44 come January the 1st. I don’t smoke and I still think it is outrageous that the State of Texas is putting such a large increase on tobacco products, which are mainly consumed by the poorest people in our state. Yes, I know that the state must somehow find a way to earn money to pay for social services, but socking it to smokers only is not right and I would not be surprised if smokers don’t take their frustration out on Texas lawmakers because of this outrageous new tax.

I call the taxes on cigarettes and alcohol, “sin taxes” because the folks who decide who receives a tax increase and who gets a tax cut have called them by this name in back rooms in the past. Anti-smoking lobbyist have used state and federal governments for years to impose their desire of a smoke free society by using the tax system to force people who do smoke to quit. People should stop smoking, but what is going to happen with this new tax on tobacco products is that the poorest citizens of Texas will be paying much of the cost of running state government, so rich property owners can get a tax cut. This whole situation is wrong and while most people are going about their daily business and planning for the holidays, come January the 1st there will be a huge outcry from smokers who stop in to buy a carton of cigarettes and notice the price has gone up by almost $15 overnight.

Just image how property owners would feel if they opened their annual property taxes and saw them almost double from the year before; do you think they would be angry? Of course, they would and rightfully so. What is happening here is Texas is a sham when it comes to fairness and I personally believe that state lawmakers and Governor Perry have finally gone too far in their plan to raise money on the backs of less than 50% of the states population. It seems like in recent years here in Texas and probably in other states too that state legislatures have decided to raise the taxes on the poor in order to protect the rich. Stuff like lottery money and increasing taxes on cigarettes and alcohol have become the new means of gaining more revenue at the state level and it is wrong to make poor people pay more than their fair share of taxes while the richest people in Texas and elsewhere are getting tax cuts and/or tax reductions.

What is the real “sin” in these new outrageous “sin tax” increases is that only a small portion of the states population is being told they must bear a greater percentage of the states taxation because they are involved in behavior which some find to be objectionable. I might be wrong, but I think there is a huge outcry coming from folks who smoke in Texas once this new tax goes into effect next year and when that happens the smokers are going to let their representatives know that they are tired of being picked on when it comes to tax increases. If representatives don’t come to their senses soon in Austin, a black market in tobacco products will take root and folks who chose to smoke will take their business to a place, which is not regulated by the tax man.

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