Sin Taxes Essay

5049 Words Oct 30th, 2012 21 Pages
POLS 5440 Principles and Processes of Government Budgeting | Sin Taxes, Good or Bad? | An Examination of the Use of Sin Taxes in the United States |

By: Stacy Madden4/27/2012 |

Executive Summary Historically sin taxes have been an effective and efficient way for the government to raise revenue. The federal government used tariffs and consumption taxes to generate almost all of its revenue in the early years of our nation. The tax structure and philosophy has evolved and changed since the beginning of our nation, however the use of sin taxes has remained a good way for governments to raise revenues. Sin taxes no longer provide a significant portion of federal or state governments; however they do provide a consistent
…show more content…
However, sin, in the context of sin taxes, refers to addictive, self-destructive, and socially undesirable, behavior from the consumption of goods and services without crossing into religious doctrine. (Lorenzi, Sin Taxes 60) In this context, then, sin is behavior that is undesirable enough to be targeted by taxes as a form of regulation or determent, but not so socially unacceptable to be illegal to the public. (Lorenzi, Sin Taxes 60) Therefore, sin taxes should not be considered as forms of punishment for poor consumption choices, but instead be a catalyst to foster sounder and safer decisions. (Viscusi 547) However, this can be a slippery slope, the limited use of taxes on goods and services deemed as sinful could grow and encompass others outside the scope of sin.
Sin Tax History Sin taxes have a long history, originating with religious doctrine and the power of organized religions to collect fees. Popes levied the earliest forms of sin taxes on prostitutes, brothels, and the sale of indulgence to raise money for religious projects. (Lorenzi, Sin Taxes 59) Laws required prostitutes to designate half of her property and fortune to convents, and brothels were taxed continuing through the 16th century. (Lorenzi, Sin Taxes 59) Further, Russian Czar Peter the Great imposed fees on the length of beards to tax vanity, and the Puritans used sin taxes to curb extravagance. (Lorenzi, Sin Taxes 59) The United States has a long history of utilizing taxes on

Related Documents