Red Fish, Blue Fish
We’re all familiar with Missouri’s sales tax holiday, but did you know there’s also a fishing permit holiday? This year, it will take place on June 6 and 7. This is from the Missouri Department of Conservation:
Maybe you’ve never fished before, and you’re not sure if it’s right for you. Or perhaps you fished when you were a kid but never have time any more. You just want one day when you can take the family out to the lake and enjoy nature together. Free Fishing Days are your chance to sample the action without having to invest in a fishing permit.
They can put it that way because people are so nostalgic about fishing. Imagine if they wrote a similar press release for the sales tax holiday: “Maybe you haven’t bought a box of pencils in a long time, or you want to look for notebooks with your family. Perhaps you just want a day to wander around Office Max and enjoy the printer cartridges. The sales tax holiday is your opportunity to have fun with stationary supplies without investing in the sales tax.”
How crazy is it that you need a license to fish? I can understand needing a license to do people’s nails at the mall (just kidding, I actually can’t understand that either) but to fish? Some license requirements are ostensibly in place to protect whomever you interact with on the job. That reasoning doesn’t work for fishing. People get their fishing license and then they go kill fish. And fishing is a quiet, sedentary activity that doesn’t pose risks to other people. I guess if they litter the ground with broken hooks that would be a problem, but paying a fee doesn’t prevent that, and we already have laws against littering anyway.
The fishing license is just a tax, like a sales tax on fishing. It funds some good programs at the Department of Conservation. To me it seems strange to tax some nature activities like fishing, and not others, like looking at a beautiful sunset. (I know, there’s no way to tax that.) I would prefer the Department of Conservation get its revenue from general taxes and not all these little arbitrary licenses and fees and hoops people have to jump through.
And just as I’m opposed to sales tax holidays, I think the state should reconsider the free fishing days. If your tax is worthwhile, leave it in place and leave it alone. Don’t divert resources from their most efficient uses. Fishing is part of the economy too!