Tim Worstall, writing on CapX.co, says that taxes on sin (tobacco, alcohol, and other goodies) demonstrates just how much we like sinning (“Sin taxes don’t do what their advocates claim”).  The result is that taxes can be loaded significantly before people refrain from indulging, earning governments lots of money.

On a broader point he challenges a view held by the medical journal The Lancet and the Guardian that such taxes are progressive.  The Guardian maintains that it is the poor who change their behaviour most when subject to taxation – telling us that the burden falls more heavily on those poor.

Worstall explains the rich buy lots of sinful things and pay more of the tax collected. But the taxes paid, for example, on a bet or a packet of cigarettes falls more heavily on the poor than it does the rich. We are told that the poor should be “taxed mightily on the little pleasures they can afford so that they might die in the manner prescribed by the Lancet”.

Gambling, unfortunately, is regarded as a sin. Something I have never understood when so many people gamble everyday one way or another.

By Warwick Bartlett