Column Date 2010-04-12

Some exciting new things to tax

What happens when you try to pay for two big wars, a major recession, bank bailouts, and universal health care -- all at the same time?

You run out of money.

Which is why every level of government in America is looking around madly for new things to tax.

For instance (these are all true):

Michigan is considering a 5% tax on haircuts.

Pennsylvania is thinking about taxing funerals.

Kentucky might tax hot-air balloon rides.

And even conservative old Maine is talking about a tax on clowns and jugglers.

So here, since our country needs all of us to pitch in and help, are some Tannen Weekly ideas for new taxes and fees:

The Shoe Tax
. Millions of pounding feet are the reason why cities and towns are forced to spend a fortune on new sidewalks. It's only fair that we tax shoes to help pay for this. And put a surcharge on women's stiletto heels, which allegedly "put greater pressure onto a floor than that exerted by an elephant standing on one foot."

The Animal Flatulence Fee
. Scientists tell us that methane from the flatulence of cattle is one of the main causes of global warming. Well then, this is a no-brainer. The only question is whether we extend this yearly fee to other animals. Possibly even people who overeat.

The Illegible Penmanship Fee
. Tens of thousands of man-(and woman) hours are spent trying to figure out what people have written -- on IRS tax returns, on drivers license applications, on write-in ballots, etc. If people struggle to read your writing, it'll cost you.

A Sunburn/Tanning Tax (FL and AZ only).
Do you know how much it costs the citizens of those good states to make sure their air is clear, so the burning rays of the sun can reach your skin? No reason why you shouldn't chip in and pay your fair share.

A Birthday Fee.
We already pay a fee to drive, a fee to get married, and even a fee to fish from our own boat. Since everybody has a birthday, this is a uniquely equitable fee.

The Bullshit Tax.
This is perhaps the richest source of revenue there is, particularly in Washington, D.C. and state capitols. There's little chance, however, of this being signed into law. Also, it's been tried before: Ernest Hemingway claimed he had a "built-in bullshit detector," but nothing ever changed.

Note: This is a non-partisan column. In some cases, we have used the word "taxes," as preferred by Democrats. In other cases, we've used the word "fees," as preferred by Republicans, mainly to prove they're against new taxes. Bottom line: it all comes out of your pocket.

(c) 2010 Peter Tannen