Hide and fleece

Andy Matthews

In his column today, John Stossel details the problem of hidden taxes.

Hidden taxes are more pernicious because they disguise what we pay for government. We blame merchants, not our legislators, for the high price of gasoline, liquor, cigarettes and phone calls, but the money goes to the political thieves.

New York imposes a gas tax of 61 cents a gallon – almost a quarter of the cost of the gas. New York City taxes cigarettes at $4.25 a pack. Washington state collects $26 per gallon of hard liquor. Illinois politicians take a sneaky cut when you buy junk food: They add 6.25 percent to the cost of soda and candy.

My phone bill lists seven different taxes – unintelligible stuff like a “Public Safety Commission Surcharge” and an “MCTD tax.” The payroll tax is one of the biggest hidden taxes. You assume that you know what you pay because it’s listed on your paycheck, but that’s actually only half of it. Employers must pay an equal amount – money that otherwise would have been part your salary.

Nevada has its own problem with hidden taxes, as NPRI’s Steve Miller explained in his 2008 study, Getting Plucked in Nevada. It’s well worth reading.