Selective Sales Taxes, Sliced Bagels
The Wall Street Journal ran an article about how the state of New York is assessing taxes on sliced or prepared bagels — but not on unsliced bagels — at around $0.08 per bagel. The article illustrates the fact that selective taxes come with high costs of compliance.
It also shows the way in which high selective taxes negatively affect businesses — in this case, bagel stores. This tax could cause customers to patronize restaurants that are not subject to a higher marginal tax rate, instead of frequenting bagel stores. (This leads me to wonder whether the pizza or sandwich industries were behind this measure.)
What is the rationale of taxing sliced bagels over non-sliced bagels? Over other breads? Over other food products? Is consuming sliced bagels a behavior that should be deterred?
There are many calls to tax “sinful” products such as soda, cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, fatty food, and tanning because their consumption is linked to health conditions like obesity and cancer. Is consuming sliced bagels, as opposed to non-sliced bagels, similarly linked to a negative health condition?
I wonder whether restaurants in states that border New York are benefiting from increased sales of sliced bagels.
This is a teachable moment for the state government in Missouri. Instead of assessing a complicated myriad of selective taxes, like New York is doing, Missouri should implement a tax climate that is broadly based.