In an effort to raise money for road repairs, the West Virginia Department of Transportation is toying with the idea of a new tax on food purchased in drive-throughs. Six percent would be the cost to those who motor rather than walk through a restaurant.
The six percent would be added to the five that is currently charged at restaurants in the state. WSAZ News Channel interviewed George Knox, a franchise owner of Tim Hortons who said, "It actually, probably would end up hurting our business somewhat because that person that might just want to come through and grab a coffee in the morning may not do that now."
"Sin" taxes aren't a new concept, even this drive-through tax has come up before. Epicurious.com writes that, "In 1776, Adam Smith endorsed taxing non-essentials too: on sugar, rum and tobacco." On the op-ed pages of The New York Times in 2006, Martin B. Schmidt, an economics professor at the College of William & Mary, proposed a 10 percent drive-through tax. Ohio is one place that already has a drive-through tax in place.
I've heard that politicians like this breed of tax because it elicits less voter backlash. But I've got to say I'm not a fan. "Sin" taxes seem so parental, so personal. Seems like the revenue system should not be used to influence the lifestyle behaviors of citizens. On the other hand, if you have to tax something, I see why you'd pick something harmful, like cigarettes and fast food. But what about the soda tax? Where's the line drawn?
West Virginia restaurants owners seem to be saying no to this proposal. West Virginia's Governor released a statement strongly opposing the idea. What do you think of "sin" taxes? If your roads needed fixing, what would you say?