Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Sales Tax Holidays
This policy is egregious enough to warrant another reference to Judith Viorst.
When I argue with people about tax holidays, I usually say something abstract about “economic distortion” and their eyes glaze over. But now I have a concrete example of the harm that tax holidays do:
This will be the 5th time the Show me state has participated in the holiday although nearly 200 cities and over 50 counties have decided not to participate in the event.
The people in the counties that aren’t participating can still buy school supplies without paying taxes — if they drive far enough. Parents decide whether the extra gas costs will be lower than the retail savings — and, if the answer is yes, they make an extra-long trip. They’re going out of their way and using lots of gas in response to arbitrary rules, not because school supplies are naturally more plentiful in the participating counties. If a legislator gave a speech encouraging his constituents to drive far away to buy something they could easily get close to home, everyone would think he (or she) was crazy. But when you call it a “holiday,” it sounds more legitimate, when in fact it’s just a state mandate to waste gasoline. It’s sort of like an ethanol mandate, except not even the corn growers benefit from this one.