Time for a Fatuous Tax?

by Jackie_South on February 19, 2013

Yesterday, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges demanded that government levy a 20% tax on sugary drinks.  It was one of ten proposals put forward by the Academy, but typically it was the one that generated all the press coverage.

Whilst the obesity problem in the United Kingdom is a massive one, frankly this is regressive headline grabbing drivel.  Like most sales taxes, putting a 20% tax on sugary drinks will hit the pockets of the poorest hardest, just at the time when government are kicking them hardest.  This would be an extremely regressive tax that ignores ability to pay and heaps the burden on the least well-off as the people who spend the largest proportion of their income on food and drink.

There is scant evidence it would do any good either. These sugary drinks only contribute 2% of the average person’s calorie intake and their consumption has fallen by 9% over the last ten years. In other words, the Academy is trying to fix something that is a minute part of the problem with a measure that is unlikely to yield any better result than current trends already will.

The success of such taxes in dissuading people to consume is not great either. Tax on cigarettes in the UK currently stands at 355%: this may have helped reduce smoking rates to some extent but the level of smoking that persists suggests that the impact of a 20% tax on soft drinks will be minimal at best.

So, this is an extremely regressive tax measure with practically no real benefit.

But that got me thinking: perhaps if instead of a ‘fat tax’ we could somehow levy a ‘Fatuous Comment Tax’, the Treasury would be raking it in. We could set it at, say, 5% of income: that chunk from the Academy itself for this knee-jerk nonsense would raise a fortune.

Think about it: stupid comments and ideas like this primarily come from the well paid: doctors, judges, politicians,journalists, captains of industry. So it is one of the most progressive forms of taxation you could raise. And take every idiotic comment by these and charge 5% of their income and all the nation’s deficit problems would be resolved at a stroke (probably).

PS – this website has no income whatsoever, so we would be exempt!

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