Our View: Another 'sin' tax emerges
So-called "sin" taxes are a conundrum. They present an opportunity to instantly raise money for a public entity or for public good. Yet some consider a tax on items such as tobacco and alcohol as a form of preying on the addicted or the poor. Gov...
So-called "sin" taxes are a conundrum.
They present an opportunity to instantly raise money for a public entity or for public good. Yet some consider a tax on items such as tobacco and alcohol as a form of preying on the addicted or the poor.
Gov. Mike Rounds last week discussed a proposal that would place a five-cent tax on the sale of alcoholic beverages. The governor, for the record, doesn't like the idea; he doesn't like any idea that includes new taxes.
But does the proposal have merit?
Possibly, but again it prompts the same arguments that South Dakotans heard when the state last year instituted its $1 tax on a pack of cigarettes. The idea behind that tax was to raise money for tobacco education, property taxes and for health care for the poor. The biggest supposed benefit is that the large tax spike will help keep young people from taking up smoking.
Debate arose about that tax, too, when it was first proposed. Many felt it was a tax that was taking advantage of people's weaknesses.
That's a good argument. People on the other side, of course, are quick to remind that a sin tax also is a voluntary tax; one doesn't pay it if one so chooses.
The new tax -- the one Rounds doesn't support -- would raise money for South Dakota counties, many of which are notoriously short on cash.
We're not saying we're in favor of the proposed 5-cents-per-drink tax that has surfaced this year. Indeed, it doesn't matter, because it sounds as if it doesn't have a chance to go forward anyway.
But we do agree that counties could use some help in raising money, and we're open to any ideas that come down the pike. As the population in rural areas declines, and the price of basic items and services -- such as road construction -- continues to rise, we worry that counties face a serious problem in the coming years.
Something needs to be done and all options must be considered.