Friday, April 9, 2010

Taxing And Re-Taxing

It's come to my attention (via FOX News correspondent Anita Vogel on something called Fox and Friends yesterday morning) that states are so damned broke lately that they've taken to the notion that it's a good idea to find new things to tax. Never mind silly ideas like taking a look at what programs could be cut back on. No, the correct thing to do is to continue spending the same amount of money that we are now, even though there isn't enough tax revenue coming in to support that sort of spending, and just find new ways to suck more money out of folks. What a novel thought. And here are some of the novel things that are being taxed across this great (but kinda dim-witted) land of ours.

According to something called Don't Mess With Taxes, in the state of Maine they are taxing blueberries because they need to "...conserve and promote the prosperity and welfare of this State and of the wild blueberry industry of this State by fostering research and extension programs, by supporting the development of promotional opportunities and other activities related to the wild blueberry industry." Uh-huh. That almost sounds believable until you learn that Maine "...produces the most wild blueberries of any state in the U.S. or province in Canada. In fact, the state produces 99 percent of the wild blueberries in the United States." Hmm. Sounds to me like the blueberry industry is doing just fine on its own. It doesn't sound like it needs a whole lot of fostering. It sounds like it has a stranglehold on the North American blueberry industry. But Maine needs cash, so they've slapped a 3/4-cent tax on every pound of blueberries.

Now, over in West Virginia, we're getting really silly. Over there, according to, they are taxing Fourth of July staples such as sparklers. And not just sparklers! No, they've added a tax to sparklers, glow worms, snakes (the pyrotechnic, not the reptile), and noisemakers "...which produce a small report designed to surprise the user." What's a "small report" supposed to mean? Like the Penske file or something? Apparently, fireworks are illegal in West Virginia, so they've come up with what they call the "Sparkler and Novelty Registration Fee" for all other items. I don't know who it is that decides what is "novel" or not, nor am I aware of the defining parameters of a "novelty". It's unclear as to what this fee goes to pay for. Other states impose taxes on fireworks and then the proceeds are allotted to firefighters. I don't know that you can do that when you're taxing noisemakers. Maybe the proceeds go toward programs for the deaf. I don't really know.

According to Reuters, the brainless lawmakers who are trying to turn California into some sort of slap-happy utopia are proposing a tax on soda. The tax would be one cent per every teaspoon of sugar that is in the beverage. They claim that this would amount to tax revenue of $1.5 billion dollars a year. So, wait. One cent per teaspoon would equal 150,000,000,000 (that's billion, folks) teaspoons of sugar? That's a lot. Now, never mind that studies have been done that show that when you significantly raise the price of soda that the consumption of soda goes down. And while that's a good thing for health, that's not exactly what your state's economy needs. See, that's the part that all of these lawmakers miss when they're enacting this crap. They figure on the revenue from extra taxes being the same as if people won't be impacted by the tax at all. They don't think that people might cut their consumption of something if it costs more. They don't think that by deliberately increasing the price of something through taxation that it might cause their revenue to actually drop! But for cryin' out loud, keep doing it! God forbid if we cut spending for once. Holy crap. That would be insane.

In the new Health Care Reform Bill which was signed into Health Care Reform Law a week or so ago, there is a tax on tanning salon services. That's right. If you go to a tanning salon, there will now be a 10% tax on whatever it is that you're paying to lie underneath some fluorescent light bulbs so that you can have an unnatural orange-y glow about you. Now, some jackass named Doc Thompson was filling in for Glenn Beck a little while ago and he surmised that he "...would guess that most tanning sessions are from light-skinned Americans." Thus, he claimed that the tax made him " a white person, "feel the pain of racism." Hard to say which is more asinine, the tax or Doc Thompson.

And finally, let's go over to Illinois where they appear to have really taken the "tax things in weird ways" concept to a whole new level. Let's say you're looking at ingesting either a delicious Snickers bar (because Snickers satisfies, you know) or a delicious Twix bar (because you can chew it over with Twix). Which one of those choices is not going to be taxed? Yes, they both have chocolate. Yes, they both have caramel. Yes, they're both candy bars. So, the reasonable answer would be that they are both taxed. Not so fast. See, the Illinois tax defines candy as candy if it does "not include items that contain flour or require refrigeration." Soooo....what now? So, because of that completely reasonable line of thinking, a Twix, which does not contain flour, does not get taxed. Neither does a Nestle Crunch, a Kit Kat or the movie theater treat, Twizzlers. But if you're reaching for a Snickers, a Milky Way or some Starburst fruit chews, you're taxed. Starburst have flour? Really? I don't know for sure. I'm just going by what I found over on something called Openline Blog and they seem to know their stuff over there, so I'm going to trust 'em.

See? We're doomed. Doomed.

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Scott Jacobs said...

"What's a "small report" supposed to mean? Like the Penske file or something?"

I'm going to pretend that you know what they meant. :)

As for Illinois, welcome to my special brand of Hell...

Mare said...

Hey, Scott.

So, is a "small report" like a guy thing or something? I'm fearing that it just might be.

Is Illinois wacky? I've always deferred to California and Florida for wackiness, but if there's stuff I need to know about Illinois, please, do tell!

~ Mare

Scott Jacobs said...

Please. The city that runs this state has been in Dem hands for decades... What ISN'T wackey here???

And "Small report" means "really tame 'bang' sound". Like the "report" of a gun firing...

They are talking about those lil white things you throw on the ground and go "snap".

Mare said...

Huh. That's what they meant, eh? I had no clue. It's still pretty freaking stupid.

And I guess that when the Dem hands get wrapped around any state, the wackiness ensues, doesn't it? Makes sense. I'll have to pay more attention to Illinois. I enjoy a nice wacky legislature that isn't California's.

~ Mare