MLR

Yoga tax reverses spin on fat tax

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You’ve heard of the flat tax proposed to replace the U.S. income tax. But what about a fat tax?

A number of U.S. states and cities have attempted to levy a fat tax, which aims to decrease the consumption of foods linked to obesity and coronary heart disease.

“Rather than subsidizing the production of unhealthful foods, we should turn the tables and tax things like soda, French fries, doughnuts and hyperprocessed snacks. . . . Simply put: taxes would reduce consumption of unhealthful foods and generate billions of dollars annually. That money could be used to subsidize the purchase of staple foods like seasonal greens, vegetables, whole grains, dried legumes and fruit,” Mark Bittman argued in a 2012 op-ed column in The New York Times

Last week, the fat tax debate appeared to spin in reverse, when the Washington, D.C., city council approved what has come to be known as the “yoga tax.”

Most states and large cities have historically relied on the sales tax as a major revenue source. As the U.S. economy has become more service oriented, traditional sales tax revenues, based on the cost of a product sold at retail, have stagnated.

In response, taxing authorities, like the District of Columbia, have sought to expand the sales tax base to include service providers. It is in this vein that health-conscious residents of the nation’s capital have been unsuccessfully protesting the expansion of the city’s 5.75 percent tax to include services provided by yoga instructors and health clubs – along with tanning salons and carpet cleaners.

When asked for his position on the proposed “yoga tax,” former D.C. mayor, and current D.C. councilman, Marion Barry, replied, “Yogurt is really more healthy than some other things, as is cottage cheese. I don’t know who proposed that. I’m not sure. But whoever proposed it, it shouldn’t be.”

“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” – John Lennon