Tax Day is historically a day for your correspondent to wake up, go to work, eat lunch, and then remember that he forgot to file his taxes. This is followed by a torrent of vulgarity and a strong affirmation of his conservative-libertarian values.
For some states, however, Tax Day is like any other: a day that the government seeks to extract more money from taxpayers. That’s the case in "Live Free or Die" New Hampshire today, where a hearing was held this morning on a 20 cent-per-pack cigarette tax increase. This comes on the heels of a 45 cent-per-pack increase last summer. It would be the fifth cigarette tax increase in New Hampshire in the past six years. No wonder Gov. John Lynch’s poll numbers are slipping in his run-up to a re-election bid in November.
In Kansas, Gov. Mark Parkinson is about as out of touch with his constituents as one can get. This isn’t much of a surprise, as he was never elected to the office and is not running for re-election. But he is calling for a number of tax increases in Kansas: on income, sales, cigarettes, sweetened beverages, and alcohol. While Kansas families are putting the brakes on personal spending, some in their government want to raise taxes and grow government.
In New York, it’s more of the same. Count me among those duped by Gov. Paterson in 2008 when he called for serious spending cuts and no tax increases to balance a tapped out state budget. Paterson showed his true colors moving forward, begging for federal bailout money and comically proposing a budget with over 100 tax increases. He’s at it again, asking the legislature for a $1 per pack cigarette tax hike. That would give New York the highest excise tax on cigarettes of any state. Should this pass, Brooklyn hipsters would pay $1.50 to the city, $3.75 to the state, and $1.01 to the federal government for every pack of cigarettes purchased.
I don’t even need to get into the multitude of reasons selective taxation is bad policy. All you have to do is ask poor people, convenience store owners, and non-smokers who have seen their tax bill rise in the past because of declining government revenue from cigarette sales. Today, for me, this is a liberty issue. On Tax Day, state governments in New Hampshire, Kansas, and New York are trying to dictate behavior while taking more money from the productive private economy. If filing my taxes today didn’t do enough to affirm my belief in small government and individual liberty, these short-sighted statist governors – Lynch, Parkinson, and Paterson – are doing so in spades.
To see ATR’s letter in opposition to the New Hampshire tax increase, click here.
To see ATR’s letter in opposition to the Kansas tax increases, click here.
To see ATR’s letter in opposition to the New York tax increase, click here.