April 11, 2006

Silly Taxes?

Despite what many people may want us to think paying taxes isn't a silly thing. It's something many of us will be thinking about consciously for the next week or so since our federal income taxes are due on April 17. Paying taxes ensures (to some degree) that we have roads to travel on, safe food to eat, and that our children have the opportunity to receive an education. While we might bicker about how well our tax dollars are used, undoubtedly good things are funded with this money.

But in preparation for tax day I thought it might be fun to poke a little fun at some aspects of many state tax codes that are silly. Here's a list of often illogical sales tax regulations in a state near you. Included on this list are items like this:

In California, fresh fruit is exempt, but an apple purchased through a vending machine is taxable on 33 percent of the price.

But when I took a closer look at this list, I realized that these special tax breaks are quite serious. These special loopholes could cost a state millions of dollars in needed revenue.

State and federal lawmakers should be making conscious decisions about what to tax and what not to tax in a uniform and informed way. Too many of the items on this list appear to be lobbyist-driven instead of based on good tax policy. Lawmakers should be taking these decisions seriously and working on ways to ensure that the farthest thing from anyone's mind would be to describe any aspect of their state's tax code as "silly."


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