The Latest Lifestyle Tax Proposal: Taxing Us For Not Going To The Gym

The Latest Lifestyle Tax Proposal: Taxing Us For Not Going To The Gym

Siobhan Harris writes on recent proposals to tax people who don’t go to the gym:

If schadenfreude is more your thing, you’ll be pleased to know that we’re not the only ones battling the Nanny State.

In the supposed land of the free, the New England Medical Journal has offered some creative new measures that I shall call lifestyle taxes. Not just one idea, but enough lifestyle taxes that would make even Nicola Roxon blush.

Excuse the excessive quotations but no commentator could possibly convey the seriousness of these hilarious suggestions. Let the quotes speak for themselves.

Beginning any sentence with, ‘Instead of merely taxing tobacco sales…’ should give you an indication.

‘[the federal government could offer] a tax credit to people who submit documentation that their body-mass
index is in the normal range or has decreased during the year’.

That’s right, trained medical professionals relying on the notoriously unsuitable BMI. As a
super fit rower back in High School (before I learnt about other much more enjoyable lifestyle choices) I was considered just overweight. Then I took up those more enjoyable lifestyle choices and lost weight. I could have received tax credits just by taking up smoking and drinking and ditching the weights.

This one is my favourite:

‘It could tax individuals who fail to purchase gym memberships’.

So if running in the park is what you love, bad luck. Off to the gym for you, fatty!

‘These strategies depart from traditional uses of taxes by targeting omissions and noncommercial activities that are important drivers of chronic disease.’

Thankfully there’s an acceptance that ‘some interventions we’ve outlined would never survive the political
process, given prevailing antitax sentiment’. Yes, because your ideas are bonkers. BUT:

‘But such sentiment may fade as the economy recovers or become less important if Democrats regain control of the House of Representatives’

Direct quote.

When Thomas Jefferson said ‘the price of freedom is eternal vigilance’ we understood, we knew that fighting for freedom would be an uphill battle. But perhaps we didn’t fully realize how steep that hill would be.

The piece concludes, ‘this opportunity now awaits its political moment’.

Let’s just hope that ‘moment’ is far far away. 

(h/t Velvet Glove, Iron Fist)

Siobhan Harris is a student at La Trobe University. 

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