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May 1st, 2013 MARTY SMITH | Dr. Know
 

Dr. Know: The Art of Taxation

Why is the arts tax billed separately?

drknowILLUSTRATION: Hawk Krall
     
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I voted for the arts tax, but assumed it would be included in the “regular” tax. Why is it separate? It feels like a punishment: “You voted for it, here it is, in your face.” If I don’t pay it, what happens?

—The Artful Dodger

I feel your pain, Dodger. As a good liberal, I’ve never met a tax increase I couldn’t vote for—but then again, as a freelance writer, I’ve never made enough money to actually owe any of those taxes myself. Thus, my arts tax notification came as bit of a shock. I voted for the thing—surely they don’t expect me to pay it as well?

Sadly, yes. They’re collecting this tax not just from my bourgeois neighbor Chris, who totally deserves it, but also from broke scumbags like you and me. If you don’t pay by May 15, your bill goes up to $50. Blow it off past Oct. 15, and you’ll owe $85.

It’s a separate deal because the city doesn’t bill individual people—the water bill and the property-tax bill cover the whole house. “Any bill sent to a specific residential property will not know the number of adults that should pay the tax,” says the Revenue Bureau.

Pinky, are you pondering what I’m pondering? If they don’t know how many people live at a particular address, it seems awfully unlikely that they know their names. Especially if they’re addressing mail to “Resident.” How are they going to enforce the tax without a list of who owes it?

They’re still working on that part. According to city spokeswoman Abby Coppock, the Revenue Bureau has until July 31 to come up with a plan.

You should still pay the tax; I’m sure they’ll think of something. But do they really not have a list? “I can’t comment on that,” says Coppock. Go journalism!


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