Sin tax

Not to be confused with syntax.

A sin tax is an excise tax specifically levied on certain goods deemed harmful to society, for example alcohol and tobacco, candies, drugs, soft drinks, fast foods, coffee, sugar, and gambling. Two claimed purposes are usually used to argue for such taxes. In contrast to Pigovian taxes, which are to pay for the damage to society caused by these goods, sin taxes are used to increase the price in an effort to reduce their use, or failing that, to increase and find new sources of revenue. Increasing a sin tax is often more popular than increasing other taxes. However, these taxes have been criticized for burdening the poor and being part of a nanny state.


Sumptuary taxes are believed by supporters to be important in reducing transactions involving something that society considers undesirable, and is thus a kind of sumptuary law. Sin tax is used for taxes on activities that are considered socially undesirable. In many cases, sumptuary taxes are implemented to mitigate use of alcohol and tobacco, gambling, and vehicles emitting excessive pollutants. Sumptuary tax on sugar and soft drinks has also been suggested; see soda tax.[1] Some jurisdictions have also levied taxes on illegal drugs such as marijuana.

Revenue generated by sin taxes supports many projects imperative in accomplishing social and economic goals.[2] American cities and counties have utilized funds from sin taxes to expand infrastructure,[3] while in Sweden the tax for gambling is used for helping people with gambling problems. Acceptance of sumptuary taxes may be greater than income tax or sales tax.



See also


  1. Hartocollis, Anemona (2009-04-09). "New York Health Official Calls For Tax On Drinks With Sugar". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-03-27.
  2. Bennett, Cory. "Proposed 'Sin Tax' on Cigarettes Sparks Hope for Preschools". National Journal. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  3. Trickey, Erick. "Sin tax extension would push public funding of stadiums past $1 billion". Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  4. Perry, Susan. "Mayo doctors propose higher — and new — 'sin taxes'". Minn Post. Retrieved 21 February 2015.
  5. "Frequently Asked Questions on the Passage of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (FSPTCA)". FDA. 2009-08-10. Retrieved 2010-05-27.
  6. "Alcohol and Tobacco". National Institute of Health. Retrieved 21 February 2015. External link in |website= (help)
  7. "Drug abuse costs the United States economy hundreds of billions of dollars in increased health care costs, crime, and lost productivity.". National Institute of Drug Abuse. Retrieved 21 February 2015.
  8. Single, E; Robson, L; Xie, X; Rehm, J (1998). "The economic costs of alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs in Canada, 1992". Addiction (Abingdon, England). 93 (7): 991–1006. doi:10.1046/j.1360-0443.1998.9379914.x. PMID 9744130.
  9. "How does tobacco use affect the economy?". Retrieved 21 February 2015.
  10. Bloom, D.E.; Cafiero, E. T.; Jané-Llopis, E.; Abrahams-Gessel, S.; Bloom, L. R.; Fathima, S.; Feigl, A. B.; Gaziano, T.; Mowafi, M.; Pandya, A.; Prettner, K.; Rosenber, L.; Seligman, B.; Stein, A. Z.; Weinstein, C. "The Global Economic Burden of Non-communicable Diseases" (PDF). World Economic Forum. Geneva: World Economic Forum. Retrieved 21 February 2015.
  11. Allen Johnson (2010-03-21). "Should my Diet Dew addiction be punished with a tax?". News & Record, Greensboro, NC. Retrieved 2010-05-27.
  12. Hoffer, Adam; Shughart, William; Thomas, Michael (February 2013). "Sin Taxes: Size, Growth, and Creation of the Sindustry". Mercatus.
  13. Farrelly, Matthew; Nonnemaker, James; Watson, Kimberly (September 2012). "The Consequences of High Cigarette Excise Taxes for Low-Income Smokers". PLOS.
  14. Williams, Richard; Christ, Katelyn (July 2009). "Taxing Sin". Mercatus.
  15. "Alcopops sales down, but spirits booming". July 2008.
  16. Van Baal, Pieter H. M.; Polder, Johan J.; De Wit, G. Ardine; Hoogenveen, Rudolf T.; Feenstra, Talitha L.; Boshuizen, Hendriek C.; Engelfriet, Peter M.; Brouwer, Werner B. F. (2008). "Lifetime Medical Costs of Obesity: Prevention No Cure for Increasing Health Expenditure". PLoS Medicine. 5 (2): e29. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050029. PMC 2225430Freely accessible. PMID 18254654.
  17. "Detailed Response to Contradictions". Climate Action Now. Retrieved 30 April 2013. When we rely on a sin tax for general revenues, we have a perverse incentive to maintain that revenue stream. It hurts government services when Canadians reduce their use of fossil fuels.
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