Government

Why Does WSSD Still Levy a Poll Tax?

Over the weekend we received the $15/year per capita tax that has been levied by WSSD since its founding 50 years ago. Although WSSD calls it a per capita tax, Wikipedia describes it differently,

poll tax, also known as head tax or capitation, is a tax levied as a fixed sum on every liable individual (typically every adult), without reference to income or resources…By their very nature, poll taxes are considered very regressive taxes, are usually very unpopular and have been implicated in many uprisings.

From Wikipedia

These poll taxes existed previous to the 1971 school board merger – at that time it was split between the township and school district. I’m not sure if that’s still the case (edit, it is still the same as 1971, the township takes $5 of the tax). But its a curious artifact. The tax has remained the same since 1971 – $15/adult. While $15/adult was a modest amount of money in 1971 (about $100/adult in today’s money), I find it hard to believe it brings in any substantial revenue once the cost of administering the program is taken into account. At this point, the stamp to mail it out and back is a substantial portion of the revenue it generates.

Supposedly we have progressive majorities on both the township and school district boards, yet they are still collecting this regressive kind of tax. Income and property taxes are proportional to income or wealth, some measure of a person’s ability to pay the tax. In addition to their regressive nature, capitation taxes have been used in America for a number of nefarious purposes over the years, see poll tax or head tax. I’m not sure why this has been allowed to linger, but its time to enter the modern world and ax it.

Categories: Government, NPTownship, WSSD