Paul L. Caron

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Haile: Sin Taxes -- When the State Becomes the Sinner

Andrew J. Haile (Elon) has published Sin Taxes: When the State Becomes the Sinner, 82 Temp. L. Rev. 1041 (2009). Here is the abstract:

To fill budget gaps, several state legislatures have proposed increasing existing taxes on tobacco and alcohol products. In addition, some states (as well as the federal government) are considering the enactment of new 'sin taxes,' for example on high sugar drinks and internet pornography. This working paper examines the arguments for and against imposing sin taxes. It argues that the use of sin tax revenues should be limited to ameliorating the problems caused by the 'sinful' product rather than for general governmental purposes. The paper uses the Master Settlement Agreement between the states and major tobacco companies to illustrate the moral hazard that is created when states become dependent on sin tax revenues. Finally, the paper draws out lessons from the states’ experience with taxing tobacco products to identify issues that should be considered as state legislatures weigh whether to enact new sin taxes.

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Any excuse to tax. Whatever happened to the idea of limiting spending? (BTW, I live in the great state of Illinois. Not only has Illinois hugely increased the income tax rate, but it's now on a rampage re: use tax--threatening those who don't report any).

I don't smoke, but in the town where I live, they're considering an ordinance to ban smoking in one's own home.

Big brother is alive and well.

Sin taxes? Don't tell me how to live.

Posted by: Bill | Apr 1, 2011 1:25:30 AM