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Is Taxation For Your Own Good? (Guest: Adam Hoffer)

January 29, 2018

Sin taxes are generally accepted, but do they outline a form of fiscal discrimination? Sin taxes affect some more than others, something that can hurt those in low income brackets while being negligible to higher earning individuals.

Adam Hoffer, an associate professor of economics at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and a Heartland Institute policy advisor, joins the show to talk about For Your Own Good: Taxes, Paternalism, and Fiscal Discrimination in the Twenty-First Century, a new book combining the work of 25 scholars in the field of public choice economics. Published by the Mercatus Center, For Your Own Good provides a thorough analysis of discriminatory taxation, something Hoffer hopes will lead to better policy education and policy-making.

Hoffer says lawmakers often have an urge to increase revenues and to do good. These impulses encourage policymakers to claim that sin taxes will fund projects promoting public health as well as curb unhealthy behavior. Instead of achieving this goal, he says, sin taxes simply distort behavior and cause unintended consequences.

The book examines selective taxation, public finance and public choice, the politics of public budgeting, fiscal federalism, and the economics of the failing “nanny state.

Article Tags
Government Spending Taxes
Author
Adam J. Hoffer is an assistant professor of economics at the University of Wisconsin- La Crosse. Hoffer is also a policy advisor for The Heartland Institute.
ahoffer@uwlax.edu
Author
Jesse Hathaway is the managing editor of Budget & Tax News, a publication of The Heartland Institute.
jhathaway@heartland.org @JesseinOH