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Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Imagine for a moment that you are a member of the Virginia House of Delegates.
Newspaper editors tell you that more money is needed for our crumbling highways and bridges.
Voters all along the eastern seaboard complain about their traffic slow-downs.
What to do?
Raise taxes, comes the answer. But you are a Republican and raising taxes is risky. Who could you tax and keep your constituency happy?
A flash of genius occurs, and the tax on high-mileage cars is born.
Who drives those Priuses (Prii)?
They are liberal-looking young people; their bumper stickers indicate that most of them vote Democrat. Raising their taxes will bring in needed funds for the state. Those liberals have been complaining loudly about needed highway funds, so they shouldn’t complain when you tax their itty-bitty new-fangled cars. They asked for taxes, and you gave them what they asked for.
You have heard the argument that the U.S. needs to cut back on imported oil. We buy, they say, too much of it from countries that are either unstable or hate us.
That may be the case, but you have many friends who drive giant sport utility vehicles and Hummers, and they make donations to your campaigns.
You are sticking with your friends and sticking it to those Prius drivers.
And anyway, they manage to look down their noses while gazing up at you in your giant comfortable ride. Who knew that voting for a tax could be this much fun?
One argument made for taxing high-mileage cars is that their owners, by using less gasoline, are not paying their fair share of the gasoline tax.
Thinking about that argument led me to consider other taxes we might impose on tax avoiders. Take, for example, home gardeners.
They plant tomatoes and beans in their back yard and at harvest time, they avoid the sales taxes that the rest of us pay at Kroger when we — like God intended — purchase our tomatoes and beans.
By the tax avoidance argument above, we should tax those gardeners.
What about all of those folks who stroll down the Roanoke greenway in the evenings? They don’t pay anyone any money at all.
They are not increasing our gross domestic product; they are not creating jobs in our community. If they would forsake the greenway, eat a Big Mac at McDonald’s and then stop by a local pub for some alcohol, they would be spurring the economy and paying their proper share of taxes.
But no, they fritter away their evenings avoiding taxes. I say tax them. We could do it the way some cities do traffic light violators — use cameras to identify walkers.
Use facial recognition software to learn the names of the guilty strollers and send out tax notices.
Some would point to the fact that greenway users are happier and healthier as a result of their exercise while deeply inhaling all of that Roanoke Valley clean, fresh air.
But, if you are going after Prius tax avoiders, why not go after gardeners and greenway users?
The tax on high-mileage cars looks like a tax on Democrats initiated by Republicans. This could start a trend.
How about a tax on people who listen to National Public Radio? With the sophisticated new electronic gadgets being invented, it might soon be possible.
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