It seems like every time I turn on the TV or radio, I hear about a new tax proposed by New York Governor David Patterson. We’ve had taxes promised on almost every little thing that Mr. Patterson thinks is a luxury or vice.
He’s promised new taxes on soda, beer, wine, cigars, movie tickets, taxi rides, electronic music and movie downloads, clothing and shoes and now lift tickets at ski areas.
Many of these ‘new’ taxes are just extending sales tax to things that previously were exempt from sales tax, but where do you stop? Pretty soon, everything will be taxed. A sales tax makes no sense if everything you can spend a dime on is taxed. You might as well just make things simple and collect it off the top as income tax.
The idea of a sales tax is to tax certain things, while not burdening people with taxes on daily necessities. Food, for instance, has traditionally been sales tax-exempt. That has been whittled away at over the years, starting with the ‘Hot-Dog Tax’ where sales tax was added to food bought in restaurants and fast-food.
I understand the idea of taxing luxury items. But that loses it’s impact when it is just applied to everything. We shrugged when the taxes were increased on cigarettes. After all, aren’t they bad for you? But if the tax worked, (it didn’t) everyone would quit smoking and no tax would be collected.
The idea of using a tax to impose morality, such as taxes on cigarettes, or porn (one of Patterson’s proposals, seriously.) just doesn’t work. First of all, if government wants to impose morality, it should do so by passing a law, not taxing it. Second, it’s just not working. Most morally-questionable vices are addictions. No amount of taxes will stop people from them. Is squeezing addicts for a few more dollars of tax how we want out government to work? Sound like the Mob, or something.
So now they want to extend the sales tax to ski area lift tickets. The state spent a lot of effort (and presumably money) over recent years trying to promote New York as a ski Mecca. Now they want to make it more expensive by taxing your lift ticket. I’m not sure if skiing is a luxury. It’s no more a luxury than golf, or your health club membership. I suppose they are going to be taxed too. So I’m not strongly against that alone. I’m more against the whole idea.
But recently, I received several emails from various ski organizations about the lift ticket tax. They have a web site: http://www.stoptheskitax.com/. So you can read it and decide for yourself. But while I suppose I am against this tax, I’d rather be on record as being against all of it, not just skiing.
I wish I could balance my budget by simply raising my income. That’s not an option at this time in my life. To balance a budget, I have to do without things. I spend less. I make hard choices, like cable or food. A new car vs. health insurance. I can cut down on food expenses, but I can’t stop eating, not without increasing my health care costs! You have to make choices, not just cut it all.
But our Governor doesn’t seem to be able to do this. He’s cut things that make you think “What is he thinking?” while increasing pay for certain government employees. It makes no sense. I would have a lot more respect for the Governor if he just said “Here’s our budget, we did the best we could, but we couldn’t eliminate the necessities. We need to raise some taxes to cover it.” But creating new taxes instead is just sneaky and disingenuous.
About the only thing I can think of on a positive note about Governor Patterson is that he’s not spending his time in office planning his re-election. No one who expects to be re-elected would do what he’s doing!