STUMP » Articles » Taxing Tuesday: How Can You Tax Your Pudding, if You Don't Tax Your Meat? » 13 August 2019, 05:48

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

Taxing Tuesday: How Can You Tax Your Pudding, if You Don't Tax Your Meat?  

by

13 August 2019, 05:48

Oh, Germany. Maybe you’re getting a little cranky from the threatened hard Brexit.

Germany: ‘Meat tax’ on the table to protect the climate

German politicians from the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens on Wednesday proposed raising the value added tax (VAT) on meat to the standard rate of 19%. Currently, meat is taxed at a reduced rate of 7% like most foodstuffs.

“I am in favor of abolishing the VAT reduction for meat and earmarking it for more animal welfare,” said Friedrich Ostendorf, agricultural policy spokesperson for the Greens.

His SPD counterpart Rainer Spieging added that “a meat tax, such as increasing the VAT to 19%, could be a way forward.”

The lawmakers proposed using the additional funds raised by the tax increase to support animal welfare in the country at a time when the meat industry is coming under increased scrutiny for how it treats livestock.

There are some interesting things going on here, including Merkel saying any revenue from this tax increase would need to go to the livestock farmers, and also mentioning that meat consumption in Germany was already decreasing.

Let’s check the commentary:

Legal Insurrection: Germany Mulls ‘Meat Tax’ to Combat Climate Change

The meat tax will hit poor German households the hardest. “More expensive meat might, in theory, reduce those numbers as some people cut their consumption to save money,” Reuters news agency concluded.

…..
Instead of coming to the aid of working-class Germans, Chancellor Merkel’s government has chosen to concentrate on climate change as they spend billions on migrant settlement and so-called green energy projects.

Merkel’s much-feted Energiewende, or energy transition, is expected to cost €520 billion by 2025. This transition from conventional to renewable energy generation has already resulted in spiraling costs of electricity and heating for the German household.

Deutsche Welle: Meat tax: Will Germans swallow higher prices?

A tax too high for some and too low for others?

Critics of the tax change reject the increase as antisocial because the price hike would affect everyone, regardless of their income.

If VAT were increased to 19%, that ribeye would cost €7.78 instead of €7; and a kilogram of pork sausage would go for €4.15 instead of €3.73.

If a few cents were added to the price of cold cuts, milk, and eggs, it would cost consumers several euros by the end of the month. Critics have argued that for some low-income families such a financial burden is too great while at the same time not costly enough to convince more prosperous families to reduce their meat consumption.

It does stink of sumptuary laws — meat for the rich. Don’t want the poor to partake of our juicy, juicy cuts. So we will force it to be expensive.

This piece is from January 2018, from Alternet originally: 3 Reasons a Meat Tax Is a Good Idea

Why Congress Should Support a Sin Tax on Meat

A 10-cent tax on every pound of chicken, turkey, pig, cow, fish and other animal flesh sold in grocery stores and restaurants could help reduce Americans’ skyrocketing annual healthcare costs by encouraging people to eat less meat.

According to the American Dietetic Association, vegetarians are less prone to heart disease, diabetes and cancer than meat-eaters are and also less likely to be obese.

The production of meat is also a leading cause of climate change, a looming environmental disaster that threatens the U.S. with billions of dollars in damages from rising sea levels, worsening storms and increased droughts.

I assume Germans aren’t quite as obese as Americans. And one is much more likely to pass a gun ban in the U.S. than a meat tax.

Powerline: GERMANS REBEL AGAINST TAX ON MEAT

Through human history, the basic standard of well-being has been the ability to afford an adequate diet, especially one that includes animal protein. But, in classic first world style, some German politicians have decided that Germans eat “too much” meat.
…..
I think most of us would agree that meat is indispensable. Most Germans apparently agree:

“The meat tax was abandoned yesterday as the leaders of the mainstream parties fretted that it could become politically toxic and difficult to administer in Germany’s highly devolved federal structure.”

The fundamental question, of course, is: what right do politicians and bureaucrats have to tell the rest of us we are eating “too much” meat, so that the price should be inflated via taxation?

Ah, good. I’m sure this stupid idea will come back (like the soda tax).

ONE LAST TAX STORY FROM GOVERNING

Explanation: Governing is closing soon.

The Change That Could Shift Public Opinion on Taxes

Citizens need to trust that their government will act in their best interest. For the most part, they believe states and localities do. According to a Gallup poll, in 2018 about 70 percent of Americans said they trusted their local government. That number hasn’t changed much since the 1970s. Trust in state government has dipped a bit but still hovers around 60 percent. That’s quite a contrast to Congress and the president, whose trustworthiness continued a downward trend in 2018 at 40 percent and 42 percent, respectively.

Social scientists don’t agree on what makes states and localities so much more trustworthy. One theory is that mayors and governors understand that if people believe their government treats them fairly and acts with integrity, then they’ll trust it. In fact, they’ll trust it even if they don’t agree with everything it does.

This understanding seems to be at the heart of the Government Finance Officers Association’s (GFOA) recent sweeping overhaul of its Code of Ethics. Codes of ethics tend to be checklists of professional do’s and don’ts. GFOA’s was no different. It prescribed that state and local finance professionals should follow the law, avoid conflicts of interest and so forth. While useful, it left a key question unanswered: Where’s the feedback? It’s clear what happens when finance officials act unethically. But what happens when they act ethically?

Well, actually, what happens with finance officials act unethically? (but not illegally)

I mean, I know the author is referring to the bad results for the locality, but I’m asking what happens to the finance officials? Especially if they keep getting re-elected/re-appointed?

Here is the statement of ethics in PDF. The one I’m looking at is dated May 2019, and it does have a positive focus, indicating what demonstrating how one actually shows certain qualities (as opposed to what one should avoid doing):

An excerpt:

How I Show Integrity and Honesty

A. Manage public finances honestly and transparently. I will: exercise prudence in the management of public funds; disclose the information needed for local officials and the public to understand the financial condition of their community; uphold the letter and the spirit of the law; avoid conflicts of interest; refuse gifts or favors that could be perceived to influence my professional duties; and not seek personal gain in conduct of the public’s business. I will develop the policies, procedures, and systems necessary to ensure honest and transparent financial management in my government.

B. Stand for my values. Integrity is the integration of my values with my behavior. I will define the values that drive how I conduct financial management in service to my community and be prepared to give voice to those values when faced with pressure to do the wrong thing. I will also be prepared to give voice to those values when I see others conducting themselves in a way that is detrimental to the future of the community I serve.

C. Be open to new ideas. Openness is essential to integrity. Openness means I am willing to admit that I may not always be right. I am willing to consider new information or ideas – they could prove essential to the continued safety, livability, and vitality of my community.

I think these are good values, and going down the list on the page, I don’t really have any issue with any of them.

What I would like to know is what the GFOA does when somebody does not hew to these standards. Kick them out of the club?

I went to see what the statement looked like in September 2018. Hmmm, that looks okay, too, but I understand why they went with a different approach to define ethical behavior.

All that said, I don’t see any particular repercussions noted for a financial officer who breaks these rules.

Unlike with actuaries. Reminder: this is the code of professional conduct for actuaries in the U.S. There are various levels of discipline, ranging from a private reprimand (which you won’t see on the websites) up to expulsion from actuarial organizations.

Pretty much all actuaries who are publicly disciplined are explicitly whacked for Precept 1, “An Actuary shall act honestly, with integrity and competence, and in a manner to fulfill the profession’s responsibility to the public and to uphold the reputation of the actuarial profession.” (Other precepts may be thrown in for good measure, but Precept 1 covers most violations that need to be publicly handled.)

All that said, the author’s point is that high ethics with regards to public finances will win public trust and thus will make people more likely to approve of high taxes…. to fill holes for such things as pension costs.

Well, I think bad behavior definitely undermines the willingness to increase taxes, but I wouldn’t assume that high integrity will make the taxpayers happy with large increases now to cover service done decades ago.

TAX STORIES

Good luck with that one, dude.

I hear making noises about gold fringes on the flags in court really helps. Try that one out!

TAX TWEETS

I may need to retire this section. With the changes in twitter’s interface, it has only gotten more annoying to embed tweets. I have a few for today, but I may give it a pass next week.

It’s interesting I get more international news in my twitter search than in my “news” search.

I have no idea who these people are.

If you’re paying taxes… maybe paying directly for services would work better? That said, I saw he had complained about a Lyft or Uber driver canceling his ride. Given his level of disability, I can understand it’s difficult to find a vehicle equipped to transport him. Not even sure if he’d fit in the back of my van.

Don’t ask me. I’m just copy/pasting.

I agree — good luck with that.


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