Monday, February 14, 2011

Taxing People Who Pay to Recreate?

There's a new bill in the Washington State Legislature that I believe aims to change sales tax law to include taxing the sales and charges associated with recreation activities. This could be interpreted to include the money you are charged when entering a running race. This seems weird to me-- aren't there more appropriate things to tax? Aren't there better ways to run our government? I know I'm biased but this just doesn't sit well with me. For those of you interested in more about this or at least curious as to why the six state legislators who are sponsoring the bill think this is a good idea I've attached some more information below(including links to the representative's contact info so you can ask them yourselves):

The bill: HB1452

I read the bill twice and two things stood out to me: 1, they never define recreational activities which to me is a pretty broad and encompassing term. Wikipedia defines it as: "Recreation is an essential part of human life and finds many different forms which are shaped naturally by individual interests but also by the surrounding social construction. Recreational activities can be communal or solitary, active or passive, outdoors or indoors, healthy or harmful, and useful for society or detrimental. A list of typical activities could be almost endless including most human activities, a few examples being reading, playing or listening to music, watching movies or TV, gardening, hunting, hobbies, sports, studies, and travel. Not all recreational activities can be considered wise, healthy, or socially acceptable or useful—examples are gambling, drinking, or delinquent activities. Recreational drugs are being used to enhance the recreational experience, a wide-ranging and controversial subject as some drugs are accepted or tolerated by society within limits, others not and declared illegal."

And 2, they never say how much those sales will be taxed. Perhaps that's determined in another part of the legal system.

And the question that pervades throughout all of this is "why?" To bring in more taxes I assume. But why this way? It seems to me there are better things to tax than people paying to recreate.