I have written from time to time about “sin taxes,” which are actually a particular application of what’s more generally known as a pigovian tax. At least one commentator thinks that, contrary to the presumed intent of pigovian taxes to correct negative externalities, actual proponents of pigovian taxes (in this case, Philadelphia’s soda tax) are really just looking for new sources of tax revenue. The commentator reaches that conclusion because the tax proponents seem surprised when the tax actually corrects the negative externality (in this case, by lowering consumption of soda).
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