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Friday, July 8, 2016
Ban The Book Tax
local, state, and federal governments are in a desperate money-grab mode. Even New Jersey, the lowest gas-tax state is
getting in on the action of raising taxes, increasing permit fees, and charging
for things that used to be done for free.
NJ was seriously contemplating jacking its gas tax by 23 cents a gallon
in exchange for lowering its sales tax by a percentage point. All of this talk of taxes made me realize
that we need to ban a particular tax – the one on books.
are issued to raise money for things like police, firemen, schools, road repair, parks,
etc. and no one can dispute the need for taxes.
The debate is usually over how much tax is too much and which specific
services, products, or events should be taxed.
There’s been a trend to tax things that society deems bad for us – sin
taxes – where items like alcohol, cigarettes, sugar drinks, and gas are taxed
say it’s just an excuse to tax people but others believe the tax changes one’s
behavior when their bad habit becomes too expensive to keep up. If we see taxation as a means of punishment/prevention,
then why do we tax things that are helpful to us, such as books? Why should we penalize someone’s pursuit of
knowledge? Books play an essential role
in the development and expansion of society, so how dare we tax those with a
thirst for knowledge?
states like New York we don’t tax a newspaper or magazine, so why do we single
out books to be taxed?
have no idea how much tax revenue would be lost as a result of my suggestion to
eliminate the book tax, but I’d guess it would run to a billion or two billion
dollars, based on a 7% sales tax of perhaps 30 billion spent annually on book
sales (this includes used, new, text, ebooks, and audiobooks at all types of stores,
venues, sites). If that revenue needs to
be replaced, that’s fine. Add a tax to
something we already pay, such as the tax on garbage bags, but don’t link
taxation with the consumption of books.
book industry may even see a slight increase in book sales as a result of
consumers saving whatever the sales tax would be. Stores would no longer be charged with
collecting the tax and dealing with it.
Readers would have one less barrier to enjoying books. It’s a win all around.
the other hand, we need to raise more funds for literacy programs, educational
initiatives, libraries, and cultural institutions that are linked to
books. Could we remove the tax but
institute a volunteer program for book retailers to collect donations at the
cash register for programs that benefit local or national organizations that
seek to promote reading and literacy?
the books is not easy when it comes to government and non-profit revenue, but
as a moral issue, and a practical one, I don’t believe a tax on what we read is
appropriate. It’s almost like a poll
tax, where people couldn’t vote unless they paid a fee. While, the democratic right to vote can never
be compromised, the freedom to read books should also never be impeded by