More affluent alternatives to the Soda Tax
On March 14th, 2019 City Councilwoman María Quiñones-Sánchez introduced Bill number 190183 that would begin the process of phasing out Philadelphia’s controversial “Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax.” While the tax had good intentions, mainly to subsidize pre-k education, many have pointed out that the tax punishes the same economically distressed people it is trying to help.
The Soda Tax joins a long line of Philadelphia’s so-called “sin taxes” – taxes that seek to change our self-destructive habits and fund programs across the city. We already have a 10-percent liquor tax and a $2 a pack cigarette tax and taxes on other tobacco products.
The obvious problem with these taxes is that if they succeed in changing our behavior, then the funding from the taxes dries up. But the main problem I have with these taxes (besides the fact that I really like sugar, tobacco and liquor) is that there are equally destructive (and annoying) habits across the city, perpetuated mostly by people who can actually afford these taxes, that are not taxed. Therefore, I propose that we not only eliminate the Soda Tax, but also the Liquor Tax and Tobacco Tax and replace them with these more just taxes:
Foie Gras Tax
Not only can this expensive (often delicious) goose and duck liver appetizer increase the chances of Alzheimers and diabetes, but the process of force feeding fowl to increase the size of their livers has been criticized by many animal rights’ groups, including PETA. Rich people take foie gras seriously. So seriously that the 2004 California law that banned Foie Gras went all the way to the Supreme Court where just this year they upheld the ban. Instead of banning it, we should tax it.
Designer Dog Tax
Any dog breed imported into Philadelphia that ends with “poo” or “oodle” should be assessed a 25% tax. This includes the yorkipoo, cockapoo, maltipoo, bassettpoo, goldendoodle, schnoodle and pitbulloodle. The original “designer” dogs, available at the Erie Avenue SPCA, won’t be taxed at all.
Rich Mid-Life Crisis Tax
Any Harley Davidson, Porsche, Hummer, antique muscle car, Slingshot, or other useless vehicles registered to anyone over the age of 45 in the City of Philadelphia shall have a 10% tax. This tax can be easily avoided if we just admit that minivans are awesome.
Coffee Drink Tax
Under the current tax, pre-sweetened coffee drinks are taxed. But that $6 soy chai venti double latte macchiato that you just poured three packets of sugar into isn’t. Any cup of coffee that costs more than $2 and has more than three words in its name should be taxed at 5%.
Any house constructed in Kensington, Fishtown, within a mile of Temple’s main campus, Brewerytown, or Point Breeze that has any one of the following: rooftop deck, granite counter tops, exposed brick, open concept or stainless-steel appliances shall be taxed an additional 7%.
If, for some reason, these taxes can’t make their way through city council because of the fancy house, fancy coffee, fancy dog, fancy goose liver, rich middle-age person lobbyists then for God’s sake, at the very least, get rid of the ten-year tax abatement for new or rehabilitated homes in the city of Philadelphia.* This absurd tax exemplifies how we punish the poor and reward the rich.
Seriously. The city of Philadelphia is quickly becoming one of the hippest, most progressive cities in the country. If we really want to live up to this reputation its time to stop disproportionately taxing people who struggle to make ends meet and start taxing those with enough money to buy a foie gras coffee drink for their yorkipoo, who waits patiently in the back of their Hummer, to be taken to their roof top deck in Kensington to watch the moon gently rise over the city of Philadelphia.