Monday, June 20, 2011
Dilbert: Let's Tax Stupidity So We Have Less Of It
Tax policy has two purposes. One goal is to collect money to operate the government. The other goal is to promote public policy. For example, mortgage deductions are meant to encourage home ownership. Tax incentives are a proven way to change behavior. This makes me wonder if we could have a tax on stupidity and thereby reduce its prevalence over time. Seriously. The nation has a great interest in reducing stupidity. ...
Suppose we developed a general knowledge test that had clear and indisputable answers. ... [I]t would be entirely optional. If you choose to not take the test, you can simply pay a stupidity tax instead. If you take the test, and score 100%, you pay no stupidity taxes at all. And if you take the test and miss a few questions, you pay a stupidity tax that is prorated by your test score. ...
I'm just curious as to whether tax policy could make a huge difference in the effectiveness of society by directly taxing stupidity.
Prior TaxProf Blog Dilbert coverage:
- Dilbert on How to Tax the Rich (Jan. 30, 2011)
- Dilbert on Tax Policy (Jan. 25, 2011)
- Dilbert on the 'Dutch Sandwich' Tax Shelter Strategy (Dec. 28, 2011)
- Dilbert on the Tax Legislative Process (July 14, 2006)
- Dilbert on Pension Solvency (Oct. 27, 2005)
- Dilbert on Financial Disclosure After Enron (Oct. 11, 2005)
- Dilbert on EBITDA (June 16, 2004)
Thanks to Georgia's "stupidity tax," the state population has gotten smarter by using that money to fund the college tuition of its students who keep up their grades. Unfortunately, though, the taxes of smart people are taken away in great part to support stupid people, who spend money on lotteries rather than improving themselves.
Posted by: Woody | Jun 21, 2011 7:12:58 AM
If stupidity was a crime, we could not build enough jails and they would all be full.
and Woody is right.
Posted by: tax guy | Jun 21, 2011 4:18:52 AM
Unfortunately there would likely be racial disparities in the test scores, which would lead the DOJ to file suit to invalidate the results...
Posted by: Todd | Jun 20, 2011 9:22:35 PM
Even a small tax rate on stupidity would be enough to balance the budget.
Posted by: Sid (real one) | Jun 20, 2011 4:02:19 PM
We already have a "stupidity tax." It's called the lottery.
Posted by: Woody | Jun 20, 2011 3:14:36 PM
Five years ago, I discussed this possibility in "Tax Stupidity? No, Tax Stupid Acts and Stupid Decisions" See
Posted by: Jim Maule | Jun 20, 2011 1:41:21 PM
Unfortunately, I see a quota system in the future...
Posted by: Jeff Hoots | Jun 21, 2011 8:14:55 AM