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Desperate Times Call For Wacky Taxes

The Sunday NYT had a fun yet informative piece about the unorthodox tax schemes some states are considering as a way to survive these troubled times.

Massachusetts is eyeing the to-be-expected gambling route, with legislators reintroducing a previously defeated plan to build casinos. Nevada, meanwhile, is poised to introduce a bill that would tax prostitution (a move long advocated by the industry).

More creatively, in the category of searching-for-a-silver-lining-in-this-disaster, Hawaii is thinking that legalizing same-sex marriage could help boost its lagging tourism business. And in the sensible-idea-but-it-ain't-gonna-happen category, California's chief tax collector thinks it's time to seriously discuss legalizing--and taxing the heck out of--marijuana--a move she estimates would bring in somewhere between $1 billion and $1.4 billion a year.  

Of course, the most ill-conceived plan may have come from the Washington state legislator who proposed taxing porn and sex toys. Unsurpisingly, the poor man got an earful for his troubles. What could he have been thinking? In a bad economy, is there any more economical form of escape? 

--Michelle Cottle