Detroit Ponders Fast Food Tax

It was bound to happen sooner or later. Since a CDC report last spring indicated 400,000 people die annually from weight-related causes, fast food has been portrayed as a villain. Even though the study’s methods have been called into serious question since publication, fast food is quickly catching up with smoking and drunk driving as America’s favorite things to hate. So it should come as no surprise that someone has decided to try to tax it.

Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick of Detroit, Michigan hopes his already heavily taxed citizenry will agree to hand over a few more cents for their hamburgers, fries, drinks and anything else available at a fast-food restaurant, to help the city overcome a $300 million budget deficit. Taxpayers in Detroit are being asked to approve a two percent fast-food tax on top of an existing six percent state sales tax on restaurant meals.

On the surface, the idea seems to make sense. The purpose of taxes are to regulate or restrict certain types of business practices, products or services as well as to raise money for the local, state or federal government. Taxing fast food seems like a good idea based on this definition. It is popular, so it would certainly raise money for the government taxing it. And, questionable methods aside, few would argue that it is something that should be eaten in moderation.

Critics, however, say a fast food tax would be an unfair burden on the poor, seniors and young people who are the primary consumers of fast food. The restaurant industry also feels that it is being unfairly penalized for a providing a popular product.

According to the Associated Press (AP) and the National Restaurant Association, the Detroit tax, if approved, would be the first in the nation to target fast-food outlets.


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