Usually enforced at the State level a sin tax is usually levied against certain products such as tobacco and alcohol or other activities such as gambling. The goal is to prevent usage of these products since they pose health risks to their users and the thought is that by raising the prices it will discourage their future use. It also has the benefit that consumers can still purchase them without having to resort to the black market or smuggling them in from other States where there are no so-called sin taxes.
Sounds good right? After all, the dangers of smoking and alcohol abuse are well known and the subsequent costs associated with treating diseases related to them are best nipped in the bud by preventing their use early in life. While I agree wholeheartedly with that I see some trouble brewing down the line and here’s why.
The State can never get too much of a good thing and money is always a good thing. Certain States are now looking to impose sin taxes on a variety of everyday products such as candy, soft drinks, fast food and even coffee. There’s also a pretty valid argument (in my eye anyway) that a sin tax is essentially a regressive tax on poor people since it’s based on consumption rather than income and they’re forced to pay a greater percentage of their income for the same product as the middle class or rich people.
Then there’s the argument that I would subscribe to. As good intentioned as these taxes might be, the use of these so-called unhealthy or dangerous products is a matter of personal choice and their usage is legal under the United States Constitution. Until they are banned by law it’s up to the consumer to decide whether they choose to use them or not. For the State to try and influence my decision by raising the cost of them is an affront to my liberty as a law abiding tax paying citizen.
And yeah, I consider myself a liberal but not at the expense of living in a so-called nanny state where decisions are made for me and not by me.