Tax Watch: 5-cent surcharge on bottles

Rep. John Mizuno (D, Kamehameha Heights, Kalihi Valley, Fort Shafter) is proposing a 5-cent surcharge on beverage containers for 3-years to raise money for public schools. The Honolulu Advertiser estimates that a 5-cent surcharge could generate about $44.8 million per year and cover at least 8 furlough days (“Bottle fee could cut furloughs,” Honolulu Advertiser 1/20/10).

I haven’t made up my mind about this one, but here are a few things to consider:

  • Once the Legislature taxes something, they’ll keep on taxing it.
  • Lower-income families will be affected most.
  • Can they guarantee that the money will be spent on public schools?
  • How much will it cost to re-program cash registers and redesign tax forms?
  • On the plus side, it would discourage kids from drinking soda.
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