April 15. A day dreaded by those of us who are procrastinators (AKA last-minute filers of our tax returns). But also a day for some of us to reflect on the concept of taxation - and how the government should be using (or not using) tax code. Obviously, as Americans, it's our duty to pay a fair share of taxes. But what are they taxing us for and why is becoming a more prominent question every year it seems - especially as tax hikes grow as government deficits expand.
In New York, for the second year in a row, Gov. David Paterson has proposed a tax of a penny an ounce on sugar-sweetened beverages. Last year, he publicly withdrew his proposal after pressure from his constituents. After all, real New Yorkers saw the tax for what it was: a pure money grab. Now, as New York's Legislature considers its budget and ways in which to fill its ever-growing holes, we encourage Gov. Paterson and his fellow policymakers to once again listen to what New Yorkers have to say: we don't want a soda tax.
In fact, in a Quinnipiac University poll released yesterday, New York voters opposed an "obesity tax or a fat tax on non-diet sugary soft drinks" by a 2-to-1 margin. The numbers speak for themselves. And this isn't the first time Americans have made their position on soda taxes known. Just last month, a national poll released by Rasmussen Reports found that 73 percent of respondents believe that lawmakers who support a tax on soft drinks are more interested in raising additional funds for government, while only a meager 17 percent believe that the same lawmakers are interested in improving public health. In fact, only 33 percent of Americans support a soda tax.
So what does this all underscore? The fact that Americans are weary of more taxes, highly skeptical that the revenues would go to anything other than bigger government, and extremely leery of the government using the tax code to tell them what to eat or drink.