Wednesday, August 5, 2009

So Many Sins--So Little Time

Let me tell you how it will be;
There's one for you, nineteen for me.
Cause I'm the taxman;
Yeah, I'm the taxman.
(George Harrison)
After destroying your income, and going after your property, the taxman has rediscovered the ever-popular "sin tax."

I thought you might all be interested in the latest on the "bet you didn't think they'd tax this" front. California has been considering taxing marijuana sales for awhile, and San Francisco has already started taxing medical marijuana sales. Despite the fact that medicinal marijuana has not been recognized as a lawful product by the FDA or the DEA, and therefore the federal government, nevertheless if you buy it, you're going to get taxed on it. There have been multiple lawsuits filed by individuals, NORML (The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) and several respectable medical organizations, but marijuana is not yet fully decriminalized or legalized. Medical use of marijuana has been all but fully approved by many states, and the feds have been very lenient about enforcing the remaining laws. But when it comes to raising, harvesting and refining marijuana, the feds have not been willing to back off--yet.

Should five percent appear too small;
Be thankful I don't take it all.
Cause I'm the taxman.
I'm the taxman.

So what it comes down to is California is considering a tax on the raising, harvesting and refining of a product which is illegal to raise, harvest or refine. Well, California doesn't exactly like the federal law, so it's trying hard to find a way to tax what it can't acknowledge exists, and if it did exist, isn't taxable because it's illegal. (Are you with me, Camera Guy?) And you thought California legislators weren't hard-working. It comes down to a simple conundrum--somewhere along the line this would have to include a tax on income. Does anybody who reads this blog think for one minute that the feds are going to allow California to collect taxes on something they can't also collect taxes on?

As for San Francisco, the law is an impediment to good taxation practices, so The City has decided it will just tax the sale of medicinal marijuana however derived, however produced, wherever grown and in whatever form it is sold. No wasting time with pesky rules and regulations imposed by un-hip legislatures in Sacramento and D.C. Tax, tax, tax. Since it seems that somewhere between 40% and 50% pf San Franciscans have a medical need for marijuana, not to mention 100% of the members of The Board of Supervisors, San Francisco's budget deficit should disappear in a puff of smoke.

Across the border in Nevada, they're going to put California to shame (if such a thing is possible). No need to grow crops. No need to harvest, refine, market and sell. Because Nevada has found the perfect product to tax--sex. Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it. So why not tax it? The state that gave us the Cherry Patch, the Mustang Ranch, casino hookers, and Harry Reid now wants to introduce America to the sex tax. So far, the feds and/or the states have managed to tax other "sins" such as soda, beer, poker playing, tires, tobacco and hard liquor. But this is the best of all. Everybody does it, many pay for it (most, if you count ex-husbands after the fact). So the real creativity is figuring out exactly how to tax it.

The head of Nevada's appropriately name Senate Taxation Committee has determined that if should be about $5.oo per, uh, ah, mm, per something. There's already a stiff tax on condoms (yeah, I know, the devil made me do it), and sex toys are taxed on their intended use, not what they look like. So a giant pickle is taxed at one rate if it's sold in a sex store, and quite another if if you buy it at Safeway. Going to the Cottontail Ranch for a little entertainment could turn out to be a very expensive bunny hop.

"Sin taxes" are very popular among our betters in the legislatures. Sin is bad for you, so you should be taxed until you stop sinning, or die, whichever comes first.

The head of the Taxation Committee is named Bob Coffin (he wants to tax you from cradle to grave, literally). Senator Coffin believes it should be a head tax (behave, you guys). They haven't yet come up with a specific proposal for counting heads, though. One head, one tax? But each time he does the horizontal tango, will his head will be counted again? U. S. Senator Harry Reid is very supportive of his colleagues back home. He says the tax is a good idea. Well, of course it is, Harry, since you won't have to pay the tax. You haven't used your head in years.

Next up: The Colorado air tax, the Arizona dirt tax, and the Oregon lint tax.

Now my advice for those who die;
Declare the pennies on your eyes.
Cause I'm the taxman.
Yeah, I'm the taxman.

And you're working for me. Taxman!
The Beatles, "Revolver"

20 comments:

Joel Farnham said...

Correct me if I am wrong, but isn't a "head" tax illegal?

StanH said...

You’re a mean man Lawhawk, you must remember it’s for the children : ( God, don’t you just hate all these corrupt money grubbing politicians. Barry threw a .60 cent per pack tax on cigarettes almost instantly upon taking office, but remember 95% of Americans will not see their taxes go up one dime, …liar, liar, pants on fire. There is good news, everyday Americans are pushing back and hard. I love “Revolver,” a great record, and “Taxman” is a great song, Mr. Wilson would have trouble figuring all the ways these jerks are going to tax us.

CrispyRice said...

I don't understand why libs can't see their hypocrisy with taxes. They tax something like cigarettes because "it'll make people do it less and that's good for everyone." But they think they can keep taxing income and savings without realizing that the incentive becomes to earn and save less.

Tax the behavior you want to discourage and give freedom from taxes to things you want to encourage.

It's so straightforward. UGH.

Oh, and also - doesn't the tax code already "require" you to declare income from illegal sources? The IRS doesn't care if you're a hit man, just so you declare your income and pay your taxes!

AndrewPrice said...

CrispyRice, I think the problem with liberals is that they never connect anything in their heads. They can be for something and then against it a minute later without ever realizing that they took contradictory positions.

P.S. Yes, the IRS demands that you declare all income regardless of source. And it is true that they don't care where you get it. BUT, I have never been able find a prohibition on reporting you to another law enforcement agency, and I know they can use your tax records against you in other proceedings.

Lawhawk, I think they should just get to the bottom line and impose an existence tax of 100% of your property and income, and then they can decide how much to give back to you in the form of grants. . . or Lincolns.

LawHawkSF said...

Joel Farnham: It all depends on how you define "head."

StanH: I think the thing that amazes me more than almost anything else is the way Americans don't seem to understand that the income tax is merely one of thousands of taxes they are hit with on a daily basis, some direct, most indirect. Tax day isn't April 15--it's every day of the year.

LawHawkSF said...

StanH: And I forgot to mention that over 70% of the people hit hardest with the cigarette tax increase are those who earn under $40,000 per year. So much for "you won't see your taxes go up if you earn less than $250,000 per year." I'm not sure yet though who will be most affected by marijuana and sex taxes.

CrispyRice: Logic? Logic! Liberals don't need no stinkin' logic. They just need to be left alone to do what's right for everybody else. They also don't see that if you go too far in trying to discourage "bad" behavior, you usually create worse behavior. See: Prohibition and the Mafia.

Pittsburgh Enigma said...

There's a local talk show host here who is always advocating a porn tax. I'm surprised congress hasn't taken this up. Is there a porn lobby that prevents this from happening?

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" you small-minded conservative.

Actually, there are prohibitions against a law enforcement agency reporting to another agency. After all, San Francisco forbade the police to report illegal aliens who committed crimes in San Francisco to the federal authorities. Why not forbid anyone to report marijuana income to the feds? My brain is turning to mush.

Your "existence" tax is brilliant. 100% taxes, and then you will be so grateful for what the government gives you. I'm calling the Unholy Trinity right now to suggest it (Pelosi, Feinstein, Boxer).

BevfromNYC said...

No offense, but being in NY and especially NYC, your guys seem like amateurs in the creative taxes department. We, in the great State of NY have a "use" tax. That means if I buy an item in any other state and bring it back into the state and "use" it, I am compelled to pay a "use" tax in the state of NY. It's right on my State/Local income tax form. I go on record to say I do not pay this portion of tax and I will not even if they send me to jail.

Frankly, I'm waiting for my State-issued breathing monitor they will compel me to wear one day, so they can tax me on my use of air. It may already be included in some State version of the Cap'n Trade bill.

LawHawkSF said...

PittsburghEnigma: A porn tax somehow just seems inevitable, doesn't it? There ain't much left.

BevfromNYC: I will admit you've got us beat on several fronts. Don't you dare tell anyone, but San Francisco hasn't yet discovered the "city income tax." Shhhh!

Anonymous said...

I’m one of those evil smokers so obviously I’m against that particular sin tax. I also consider state lotteries as sin taxes (lotteries are also discriminatory to the mathematically challenged) since many states that hold lotteries do not have legalized gambling. Coming down the pike: the refined white sugar tax, the McDonald’s tax, and the toilet paper tax (since environmental utopians like Sheryl Crow advocate a one sheet policy).

The flip side of discouraging “evil” behavior is that if governments want more money (I’ve never met one that doesn’t) it is now in their best interest to encourage sins. So follow Obama’s lead: Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.

patti said...

taxing the sex and then the cigs after it. man, there's a racket we'd all like a piece of...

Tennessee Jed said...

The Beatles were protesting the high taxes in Britain under Wilson and Heath. I'm trying to find a rhyming lyric to use for the Obama administration.

Better yet, CONTEST! Sorry, no prizes available other than the honorary title of "person cool enough to come up with a catchy rhyming replacement lyric." Isn't that reward enough?

LawHawkSF said...

Anonymous: You're so right. A "sin" by any other name smells as sweet. Lotteries are among them.

Patti: You're evil. Even a man with a mind as prurient as mine didn't put the smoking and the sex together. Sometimes the obvious escapes us. LOL

TennesseeJed: Good luck. Please let us know. I tried to do that when I was writing the article, and couldn't come up with anything that fit, despite the huge number of names available to us to replace Wilson and Heath with. So I gave up and printed it straight (without the two references).

patti said...

lawhawk: i knew if i stuck around, i'd be of some help here.

StanH said...

Defining deviancy down. Great minds think alike, Ha!

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, That's a great idea for a future contest.

Writer X said...

Sounds like California is jumping on the "don't let a good crisis go to waste" bandwagon. Or maybe it's a VW bus.

StanH said...

Jed does it have to be to the music of “Taxman.”

LawHawkSF said...

WriterX: In tandem with "leave no tax stone unturned."

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