Letter: Tax on plastic bags could be giving the government one more inch

January 25, 2012

While the good intentions of a "plastic bag tax" for store shopping bags to prevent pollution is admirable, I do take one issue to Mr. Pasalic's letter (Leader, Jan. 19). Specifically the line "five cents never put anyone into poverty." One thing is for certain, once you give the government an inch with taxes, they eventually take the mile.

Take a look at your phone bill. Many years back the government said, "We're gonna add just a teeny weeny tax on your phone bill. It's just a few cents and it's for the children's education!" Now let's take a look at my phone bill for two business lines for my office on Main Street: MD gross Receipts Tax Surcharge $2.15; Telecommunications Access of MD Fee $.36; MD 911 Fee $1.00; Federal Universal Service Fee – VZ LD $1.82; Federal Universal Service Fee $3.02; Federal Excise Tax $1.72; MD State Sales Tax $.60; MD Local Excise Tax $1.20;Prince George's CountyTelecom Sales Tax $5.15; Federal Subscriber Line Charge $5.64 (x2); VES MD Local Excise Tax $2.63; $VES Universal Service Fund Surcharge $2.15; VES MD Tax Surcharge $.72; VES Federal Access Charge $3.85 (x2).

Turns out taxes amount to 50 percent, yes, one half, of my total phone bill.

Luckily for me, I've figured out a way to get phone service via the web without using the phone company, so now they get $0. But I won't mention it here because I don't want anyone to add just one small "teeny weeny" tax on it.

My point is, you don't have to always choose the punitive tax route. Just like using vehicle-activated signs or traffic circles, rather than speed cameras, to control speeding, you can often find a far more effective solution if you're willing to think creatively on it.

Nate Hammond

West Laurel

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