The Tacky Side of Taxes|税金:貧弱な税金制度

Benjamin Franklin, an inventor and one of America’s “founding fathers” of the 1700s, once said: “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.” But even Franklin, were he alive today, might be surprised by the myriad taxes in the United States — some of which seem too ridiculous to be true.

For instance, did you know that anyone who wants to get a tattoo put on their body in the U.S. southern state of Arkansas has to pay a six-percent “tattoo tax”? In another southern state, Alabama, if you want to buy a deck of trump cards, you must pay an extra 10-cent “playing card tax.”

In the mid-western city of Chicago, Illinois, there is a nine-percent “fountain soda drink tax” on cups or glasses of sodas served directly from soda fountain machines.

Whenever you go to a stadium in Virginia, Maryland and other states to enjoy a sporting event, you have to pay an “amusement tax” on your seat.

And speaking of sports, in California there is also a state “jock tax” on the income earned by highly paid “jocks” (athletes) and other entertainers. California started this unusual system in 1991, and other states eagerly followed suit.

So, are there really too many kinds of taxes in America today? The authors of a recently published book in the U.S. think so, and they have an alternative solution: tax all rude people instead.

In their book “
Tax the Rude, Not Me!” authors Sylva Zamchyn and Tom Dwyer say that taxing the many rude persons in America for their impolite behavior would help balance governmental budgets — and also improve the bad manners of Americans.

Among the humorous kinds of taxes Zamchyn and Dwyer propose levying are a “Payroll Tax” on all Americans who don’t say “thank you” when a door is held open for them by someone else; an “Access Denied Tax” on all U.S. airline passengers who refuse to share their seat’s armrests with the persons next to them; and a “Butthead Tax” on all Americans who toss cigarette butts on sidewalks, beaches and other public places.

What would Ben Franklin have to say today about all the taxes U.S. citizens have come to pay? Ol’ Ben, known as a humorist himself, would likely retort with a hearty “Tax this!” and dream up a few new, inventive taxes of his own.