Smart TaxesSmart Taxes

Omaha mayor pushes toilet paper tax

Federal tax of 10 cents a roll to upgrade sewer systems would be the ultimate user tax and ease the squeeze on city funds.

By Kay Bell Mar 28, 2011 4:12PM

If Washington, D.C., is going to demand that local governments upgrade their sewer systems, then Washington, D.C., should help pay for the improvements.


And what better way than a federal excise tax on toilet paper?


The extra 10 cents on every roll of toilet paper was one of the ideas from Omaha, Neb., Mayor Jim Suttle, who's looking for ways to help pay his city's $1.7 billion federally mandated sewer project cost.


Given the linking of taxes and bathroom humor, the toilet paper tax proposal pops up across the country now and then.


Suttle admits that he got the idea from an Oregon lawmaker who suggested a similar plan a couple of years ago as a way to help cities and the environment. But the

Midwest mayor thinks the time might actually be right for such a tax. 


He could have a point.


Use taxes tend to be more accepted by the public.


The toilet paper levy also has some hallmarks of the ever popular sin tax strategy.


No, using the facilities isn't a sin, but the toilet paper tax shares some similarities of, say, such specific fees on cigarettes and sugar-sweetened beverages.


The product being taxed -- toilet paper -- ties in nicely with the project -- sewer system -- needing financing.


And the levy doesn't discriminate against one segment of taxpayers since everyone (we hope!) uses the bathroom tissue.


"If you have to pick your poison, which poison is best?" asked John S. McCollister, executive director of the conservative think tank The Platte Institute. "User fees seem the fairest type of tax. The person receiving the benefit should be the person paying for that benefit."


I can see another supporter of a federal toilet paper tax: Costco. Think of the crowds that would head to the warehouse discounter to stock up on lower-priced rolls.

More from Don't Mess with Taxes and MSN Money:


Mar 29, 2011 2:24AM
I live in Omaha.  The mayor was on the city council when it approved a bunch of other projects in the city that it didn't have the money to pay for.  He was also there when the city council approved contract with the Fire/Police Unions that allowed for early retirement and pay spiking. He voted for all of them.  The bill has now come due for all of his pet projects.

Rather than cut the budget, he gave raises to his staff when he entered office and entered the city into a $500 month lease for his personal "work" vehicle.  He has passed a 2.5% entertainment tax, a $50 wheel tax on nonresidents that work in the city to repair residential streets (not the main thoroughfares), and survived a recall effort by paying the homeless in the city to "work for his campaign". (Ironically they bussed these guys to the poling places to go vote after their "training".)  He is as crooked as they come and he is driving business and people out of the city and into the suburban towns surrounding the city.(Look at the latest census.) 

The city knew this was coming for years. They decided to not make any long term plans to help business cover the cost of this federally mandated project.  The costs are now being passed on to the residents and local business, hence anyone that can afford to leave city limits are fleeing like rats off a sinking ship.  His tax revenues are dropping due to the migration out of the city, and he is desperate to find a way to get the city budget balanced with out having to cut "services" to his voting base. 

Trust me, he is no great thinker.  He is an incompetent fool desperate to cover his behind.

Mar 28, 2011 9:07PM
Toilet paper tax?  That's about as idiotic as it gets.  If you need to raise revenue to maintain the sewer system, you raise water and sewer rates.  Those who use the most should pay the most.  It's pretty simple logic.  A toilet paper tax will just push low income people to start stealing toilet paper and/or using paper towels or napkins instead of toilet paper.  That should plug up the sewers nicely. 
Mar 29, 2011 9:18PM
I live in Omaha as well and this mayor is out of his mind. He is tax happy. As previously stated by reformed, he survived the recall most likely due to paying his buddies to go out and vote for him, or using scare tactics. He has done nothing but put this city in the hole financially. We weren't the greatest to begin with, but he has done nothing to help it. His main priority is his unions and his over paid staff. I live in an apartment just on the edge of town, unfortunately annexed by Omaha a couple of years ago. I now plan to move because of all these taxes. His tax on a tax with the 2.5% addition to our restaurant taxes, our escalating wheel taxes, his pushing for commuter tax, now this crazy idea for toilet paper tax?!? He has finally lost it. For anyone curious enough, please google him and listen to the man speak. He truly sounds like he just escaped a senior living center. How the citizens of this city elected him and then saved him from a recall is beyond me. I can proudly complain as I did my part to push him out and I voted for the other guy. 

The only time he acted like a decent public servant was when his butt was on the line for being recalled. Now that he is safe for another two years, he is back to his old ways. We are beginning to look like a mini Detroit. Nobody can afford anything. Crime rates are going up. He is not doing anything to curb it. Worst mayor in Omaha, NE history. So think and do your research before you compliment this idiot's thinking. 
Mar 28, 2011 8:50PM
They tax you coming and going. They take the money spread it around to their buddies and then dream up another way to tax you next month
Mar 30, 2011 11:18PM
So this is literally taxing the crap out of you
Mar 31, 2011 10:22AM
This is just insane......The House and Senate need to take serious pay cuts.
Mar 30, 2011 9:59AM
The guy is a democrat. What do you expect? They are all tax happy idiots that spend, spend, spend. I for one was not complementing him or calling him a great thinker. I am however tired of Washington DC putting their nose in local issues beyond their constitutional powers and leaving cities and states to pick up the tab. In that case, forcing the Federal government to either create a tax to pay for it or revoke the new requirements. If they were forced to do that, then at least voters around the country would know where to place blame for this particular situation. Now the Omaha mayor may have done a hundred other things wrong but this is one area where the issue should be with the Federal government sticking their heads into local issues. It is a lot like the health care law too. One reason why it looks like it might not add to the Federal debt is because it pushes a lot of new cost down to the states. If the Federal government paid for everything it was requiring in the health care law, it would add a ton to the national debt. Now it is MAYBE national debt neutral but states are going to get nailed and have to raise taxes to pay for it. Unfortunately many Americans are too stupid to understand that. The Federal government should not be allowed to mandate state spending.
Mar 30, 2011 6:34PM
I always joked about this day would come.  The EPA tried to pass a gas tax on farm animals.  $20 a year for a hog to take a dump, and $75  a year for  a cow to take a dump.  As of now,  I don't think it passed.  I always said, if it did pass next they would be taxing people.  Pretty soon there will be no paycheck left.  It will all go to taxes.  Very sad. 
Mar 31, 2011 9:24PM
If the goverenment wants to tax the toilet paper ... maybe we should pay, wipe and send the results to them .... just so they know what we think of the tax.
Mar 31, 2011 2:14PM
We have crapper tax of about $200 annually for single family homes and $100 annually for condos and townhomes. It's called the waste water management tax to pay for the sewage costs of maintaining our city's pooper system. Hope they aren't thinking of taxing our toilet paper too.
Apr 4, 2011 12:48PM
We already pay sales tax on toilet paper, tax on the gasoline or transportation required to get us to the store, and tax on our sewer bills.  It seems as if it's becoming very expensive to go to the bathroom.  What tax is next?  Should we start taxing the tax rate? 
Apr 1, 2011 1:43AM
hope they don't tax passing gas. I would be up in fumes, hehehe.
Mar 31, 2011 9:55PM
What is next, the air we breathe ?????????????
Mar 30, 2011 10:14PM
Tax Toilet Paper? Give me a break. This is stupid. Tax the rich more to fix a sewer system? Tax anyone more to use the sewer system? We pay taxes to build and maintain critical services from a government agency (city, county, state et al) and we expect them to do just that. They have NOT maintained our infrastructure and now want to tax us more to do it? This is stupid, robbery, and gross incompetence on the part of our government leaders. 

Democrats would like this but the rest of us consider their tax and spend (on their own pet projects and social programs) concept to be disgusting. If a politician wants to tax toilet paper-let him or her pay MUCH more than everyone else because the reason for the tax (lack of maintenance and upkeep), is their fault. 
Apr 1, 2011 12:54PM

Sounds great, EXCEPT such a tax never winds up specific for the intended project;

 the money goes into the general fund, and spent on other projects.

The state lottery intended for education is the perfect example.

Mar 31, 2011 9:44AM
Mar 31, 2011 12:41AM
LOL the Aussies have been paying it for a long time ! Not to mention higher gas prices for ever too. They think of us as wasters lol they even strighten old nails due to the cost of new and were crying ? Our own fault though we put the goats in charge of us ? So they eat us of of house and home for themselves.
Mar 28, 2011 10:27PM
moneyhawk, the point of the toilet paper tax I believe is because this mayor wants to put the blame where it belongs, the federal government as they are the ones forcing all of these cities to upgrade their sewer system. You raise your water rates, people/voters are mad at you. You create a federal toilet paper tax, people are mad at the federal government. Since this expense is because of the federal government, not the mayor, I am guessing he just wants to make it clear who the voters should be mad at for having to pay even more money. Now people smart enough will know even if it is a raise in water rates that it wasn't the mayor's fault. Others are too stupid and short sided to see the real reason and the politician of the opposing party will likely point out the higher rate but won't bother to mention it wasn't his fault. It is just simple politics.
Nov 30, 2011 7:56PM
Nov 30, 2011 4:24PM

We need a tax on politication for lying, for coming up with stupid ideas and not doing their job..

Only taxes that are vote on by the people of the country,state, county, metro districts and cities can be applied. The people approve all taxes......

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