After the apparent success of raising taxes on cigarettes, people seem to be determined to raise taxes on pretty much anything they can think of.
Just this week, the idea of a #VanityTax was floated, eliciting a rash of reactions on Twitter and other social media. It didn’t help that, as Cosmo.ph reported, toothpaste and deodorant might actually be covered by the proposed tax. Cosmo was citing a CNN Philippines report by Pia Garcia explaining that the proposed vanity tax applied to “any substance or preparation intended to be placed in contact with the various external parts of the human body or with the teeth and the mucous membranes of the oral cavity, with a view exclusively or mainly cleaning them, perfuming them, changing their appearance, and/or correcting body odor, and/or protecting the body or keeping them in good condition.”
With a definition like that, it would appear that only people with bad teeth, body odor, and over-all lousy hygiene, would be spared the new tax burden.
And now, there’s this:
PBA Partylist Rep Sambar mulling 5% electronics excess tax on "excess" gadgets, appliances. Ex: 5th cellphone or 3rd tv. @gmanews
— Tina PanganibanPerez (@tinapperez) January 13, 2017
This is interesting because, apart from imposing a tax, this measure would result in government telling citizens how many electronic devices they can have. It’s like a ‘two-child’ policy, but for … stuff. And like with the vanity tax, it seems like one of the problems is definition.
Even assuming that there is a legitimate need for more taxes, some thought must be go into HOW these additional taxes are proposed to be raised. There is no doubt at all that the proposed coverage of the vanity tax is overly broad, what with the intention to rope in even those substances intended mainly for cleaning various parts of the body. In the case of this excess electronics tax, what needs to be defined is the concept of “excess.” How many of a thing would be considered excessive, and by what standard would it be deemed so?
Both these laws are still nebulous, I understand. Like with all new legislation, much work will have to go into making sure that the resulting legislation will not suffer from the sin of over-breadth. And, in any event, a compelling case will still have to be made both for the necessity of the proposed measures and for the legitimacy of their intended object. As more than one Twitter user has pointed out, make-up (one of the most obvious candidates for a vanity tax) isn’t always an indulgence; that many women are actually told to wear make-up by their employers.
The lesson to be learned here is that even proposals that seem to make sense, or are motivated by the best intentions, might very well have consequences that turn out to be negative. As voters, our responsibility is clear: we must pay close attention to proposals such as these, and not hesitate to let our elected representatives know our opinions on them. Being an educated voter means remembering that just because you voted for someone, doesn’t mean you’ve given up the right – the responsibility – to act as true sovereign source of all government authority.
In the meantime, I wonder what new taxes we can dream up – y’know? to help guv’mint? Here are a few suggestions:
A “Waste Not, Want Not” Tax – A tax on meals in excess of the cardinal three – breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This will prevent our people from being pampered by too much indulgence and will act as a deterrent against food wastage.
The “Get Back to Work” Tax – A tax on excessive entertainment activities, such as on every movie watched after already having watched two movies for the week. This will prevent the people from losing their focus on their jobs and act as a deterrent to criminal loafing.
This tax will also be applied on non-work related social media accounts. Internet service providers will be required to log the number of hours a user is on social media and will withhold the appropriate amount of tax, which cost shall then be passed on to the user via the monthly charges.
A “My Way” Tax – a tax of 20% will be levied on all equipment used for karaoke/videoke systems. This will prevent excessive noise pollution in the neighbourhoods and act as a deterrent to homicides caused by singing “My Way.”
The “Go Forth and Multiply” Tax – an additional 15% tax will be imposed on contraceptive drugs and devices. This will curb the rampant sexuality of the youth and act as a deterrent to the demographic winter that will destroy the next generation and our country’s future.
The Ironic Tax – a levy will be collected for every satirical work, in whatever medium, produced. Including this one.