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May 19, 2021

If no fat tax, then what about taxing parents of obese kids?

There’s a reason the fat tax story won’t die.

1119511_burger For every detractor that points out the idea’s a little totalitarian – “Where does it end?” wrote one commenter when MSN floated the idea back in 2009. “Should people who engage in activities such as sky diving or riding motorcycles pay a danger tax? Should people who have sex with more than one partner pay an STD tax?” – there’s someone, anyone, that suggests it’s not as hypocritical as you might think.

“I’m a smoker and have been taxed a lot with the so-called sin tax,” replied another reader. “We are told that it’s because we cost the system more. I don’t see the diference (sic) from taxing a smoker or taxing the fat. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.”

So as we continue to kick around variations of the proposal (a soda tax was another manifestation), it’s becoming clear there’s enough interest from at least one side of the debate to keep things going.

The latest incarnation? A fat tax not against foods or sodas or muffins, but against parents of obese children.

Though he’s since distanced himself from his remarks, Illinois Republican Senator Shane Cultra caused quite a stir this month in suggesting a bill that would take state tax deductions away from parents with fat kids. (In Illinois, parents receive a standard tax deduction of $2,000 annually.)

After Rush Limbaugh, the New York Times and even the U.K.’s Daily Mail caught wind of the story, Cultra backed off his proposal. But you have to admit, if anyone would even think to entertain a fat tax, penalizing parents for raising obese children – or, rather, rewarding them for instilling health lifestyles upon their kids – certainly falls in line with the overarching theory.

What do you think? If a fat tax wouldn’t work, would punishing parents for raising overweight children change things?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money

*Follow Jason on Twitter here.



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...