There are many types of taxes that take many different forms depending on where you live. There are excise taxes, direct taxes, indirect taxes, federal taxes, state taxes, county taxes, and city taxes. While some do collect money for necessary services, like running the government and fixing roads, some are simply a way for the Federal or local governments to modify consumers purchasing habits. Taxes on things like Tea is what lead to the Boston Tea Party and the Revolutionary War.
Below is a list of taxes most of us pay in one way or another. This however is not a complete list, because as previously mentioned, it depends on where you live, and what you buy. You may have more or less local taxes.
From the list above, it’s clear some taxes are needed. For example, bridge and toll taxes help to fix the roads and maintain the infrastructure. And they seem logical in that only the vehicles that use the roads and bridges are taxed. This makes sense.
However, some taxes exist merely for the purpose of dissuading consumers from buying or using a product. Examples include Table Wine tax, Spirit tax, Cigarette tax and the Tanning Salon tax. When the government wants to penalize the consumer, they jack these taxes up to extremely high levels, which can levy a pretty heavy burden on an individual who is supposed to be free to do as they please so long as it doesn’t break a law or affect anyone else.
New York charges $4.35 per 20-pack of cigarettes, while Virginia only charges $0.30 for the same quantity. Clearly New York is levying a penalty in the form of a tax on smokers, simply because the state government doesn’t want them to smoke. I think we all understand smoking is bad for you, but is it the government’s job to place a burden on you because you choose to smoke? There are many things people do and ingest that are bad for them. Eating fast food, ice cream, potato chips, red meat, and just about anything not consumed in moderation all have their associated health risks.
How about a tanning salon tax? Why should one be taxed to bask under a certain wavelength of light? Should one also be taxed for taking a walk on a sunny day, or for simply being outdoors?
We all understand skin cancer is caused by UV light, but the human body also needs UV light to maintain good health. A vast majority of the population is now Vitamin D deficient because of the skin cancer scare put out by the government and health officials (Source: Scientific America).
Too much suntan lotion and covering up is causing more problems than had people received a little too much sunlight. If the government is taxing tanning salons because they “promote” skin cancer and need to collect money to offset the associated medical expenses, they are creating a bigger problem because too little Vitamin D promotes cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and depression.
And yes, there is an extremely small subset of the population that abuses tanning salons, but why punish all the other patrons who do not abuse these services?
Here’s another taxation problem. Look at all the telephone taxes (Source: The FCC). There are a whole plethora of taxes. Don’t be fooled, The FCC will purposefully confuse you with the word “charges”, which is the same thing as a tax (remember, it’s a penalty not a tax when they debated Obamacare in front of the Supreme Court?). For instance, if the telecommunications companies want to use the government’s infrastructure, they are charged a fee by the government (not a tax). The telecommunications companies then pass this fee onto you, the consumer, in the form of a tax. In essence, the government extorts the telecommunication companies to tax the consumer for them. It’s a revenue stream the government doesn’t want to give up, and it’s largely unneeded.
The point is, people should not be burdened by their governments because they do something their government doesn’t want them to do. The government acts on its own behalf, not in the best interest of the people. And a tax should not be levied, then wielded as a weapon, in the absence of law.