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Tax on the system
April 15, 2014, 05:00 AM By Michelle Durand Daily Journal

Death and taxes. Today marks the day many are paying one — although frankly, electronic filing makes tax day as arbitrary as Election Day in absentee-heavy jurisdictions — and hoping to stave off the other. But as long as that reaper stays at bay, the annual tax bill will come as will the inevitable wail that we all, particularly here in the Golden State, pay too much tax on too many things already.

True, true, true. Retail sales, hotel rooms, rental cars, parking places, cellphones, property sales, automobiles, cigarettes, liquor — all meant to raise money, deter vice or in some cases, both.

So why stop with the flavored-vapors and adult beverages? Why let only those needing transportation at the airport or a place to lay one’s head foot the bill for fun things like paying suspended state legislators’ salaries during their legal wrangling?

Instead, let’s just go ahead and expand the tax list for that win-win goal of planting another money tree and making some think twice before acting. If we don’t, we might have to do something drastic and tax the rich more. Shudder.

The days of tax-free cyberspace is over so social media is a perfect place for new taxation — or, as it’s known by the more warm and fuzzy politically correct name, revenue enhancement. Not all tweets and posts, mind you. Anything important, pressing or has the ability to make others laugh are exempt although that last caveat will require an independent commission to judge. Guess we can fund it out of our newly created tax fund. Until, of course, that fund runs dry. Then it’s time to increase the tax.

But back to the current possibilities. Insist on taking selfies? Tax. Any tweets made to kill time at the stop light? Tax. Selfies at funerals or other inappropriate venues? Double tax! Videos of twerking, cats or any 140-character bit of unsolicited wisdom marred by spelling errors, obnoxiousness or multiple explanation marks? Tack on an extra special tax. Call it a gratuity because those gratuitous contributions to the collective social medial conversation can certainly be omitted.

Long hair on professional baseball players and creepy mustaches — talking to you here, Timmy! — are making a comeback, at least on our local boys of summer. For the love of everybody who believes mullets and ’70s-era adult movies need to remain at rest, a dubious ‘do tax.

Any time somebody insists on referencing drones or Bitcoin in a bid to look current without actually being able to explain either? Feeling that wearing Google glass entitles the user to film those around them or — worse — act like a horse’s behind when that action is questioned? Network stations opting to provide viewers with yet another pointless reality show predicated on yelling, punching and mutilating the English language? Done, done and done.

At this rate of taxation, the state and country will soon be rolling in more dough than those Nigerian princes and oversees barristers who continue tracking me down on the Internet with promises of riches if I would just help them launder the funds.

The challenge will be creating an organization of these new payers so that the government isn’t accused of taxation without representation. Our waterways have enough challenges with the chloramine fears and plastic bag pollution without brewing up another potential contaminant. Then again, maybe that will finally, and literally, justify the tea party.

Michelle Durand’s column “Off the Beat” runs every Tuesday and Thursday. She can be reached by email: or by phone (650) 344-5200 ext. 102. What do you think of this column? Send a letter to the editor:



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