Tax Ideas

A Fool In NH Column Heading

December is a time for reflection for many of us. It is a month we sit down to not only go over in our heads all of the events of the preceding year and how we might improve on it but also to contemplate one of life’s never ending mysteries, the property tax bill.

Some folks claim that here in New Hampshire our property taxes are higher than most because we don’t pay a sales or income tax. There are people from both sides of this debate, but I won’t get into that here. Let them get their own column.At some point in the coming year, our state legislature is sure to have a few representatives who will try and introduce new taxes on things we own and do. Still, you shouldn’t blame them, it is really the only thing they know how to do well and they are just playing to their strengths.

Before that happens though, I’d like to introduce a few of my own ideas for new taxes and fines. I don’t spend all of my free time trying to figure out who or what to tax, I leave that those selected few legislators. Still, I occasionally get an idea for some fun taxes and I thought I’d share them here, just in case someone in Concord is looking for a new idea.

Feel free to use any of them and you don’t even have to give me credit.

“The Secret Tourist Tax” – This is a ten percent tax on everything and would be in effect only from mid-June to Columbus Day weekend. All New Hampshire residents would learn a secret high sign (like wiggling their fingers under their chin) or maybe a secret phrase like “Ompoppaompoppaom” which would be uttered quietly to the cashier upon purchasing so as to be exempt from the tax. (Anyone caught giving the secret high sign or code phrase to a non-resident would have to pay a hefty fine.)

The Balloon Tax – When I was a kid and went to Woolworth’s for a banana split, we would get to choose a balloon hanging above the counter. Whatever price was in the balloon would be that amount we paid for the banana split. We often ordered a banana split just for the thrill of the gamble. I think from November to Mid-June we could use this idea at local stores (balloons provided by the state; maybe a new agency – “The Department of Balloons” – to distribute them.) Whenever you purchase something you pop a balloon and have to pay the percentage of tax inside. Anywhere from zero to ten percent. (Those who refuse to play have to pay a nine percent tax.)

The Big Chill Tax – Each day that the temperature dips below zero in Concord, everyone in the state has to pay a dollar.

The Christmas Wreath Tax – Anyone leaving a Christmas wreath on their front door past March 1st will be assessed a daily fine until the problem is resolved. (Another related fine could be imposed upon people who keep lighting their outside Christmas lights past January 15th. Someone also suggested that anyone who puts out an inflatable Christmas figure taller than ten feet high should have to pay additional property taxes adjusted to the length of time this structure was present on the property. I must admit, though I agreed slightly, I found this to be a bit harsh.)

The Big Wheel Tax – This is another sales tax idea similar to the Balloon Tax but with a different twist. After you buy something, you get to spin a big wheel to determine your tax rate. What’s different about this tax is that other shoppers can bet money on the outcome. All of the wagers would go to the state and the winning shoppers would receive valuable merchandise coupons.

The Town Meeting Tax – Say something that has already been said by someone else at the town meeting and pay a fine. Sure to cut meeting times in half as well as helping to fund education.

Room and Meals Tax 2 – Yes, we already have a rather pricey nine percent room and meals tax but this one would not be for hotels, restaurants and supermarkets. With this one you get to charge a tax to a relative who overstays their welcome at your house. I don’t think it will create a lot of revenue but it should solve other pressing issues.

There you have it. Remember that I am not as experienced as some in coming up with new taxes.

Brendan can be reached at brendan@weirs.com.