Fees + Taxes = Double Taxation?
Today's Deseret Morning News reports on the increased reliance on entrance fees to fund national and state parks. One of the persons quoted in the article suggested that having to pay taxes and fees is the same as paying twice.
We've heard the same argument with regards to congestion pricing. Such "paying twice" or "double taxation" reasoning leads to some very interesting conclusions.
For example, should cities stop sending residents monthly water bills because federal taxes, state sales taxes, and local property taxes are used to fund water projects?
Should the state eliminate the gas tax (really a user fee) because state and local general sales tax dollars and local property tax dollars are used to fund roads?
Should the state stop charging for lunches in public schools because federal taxes and state liquor taxes are used to fund school nutrition programs?
It's fairly obvious to most people that if government were to eliminate these fees that general taxes would have to be raised elsewhere or government programs would have to be streamlined (including those that were being funded in part by fees).
However, the real question to those who argue that these fees are double taxation is why do government services have to be either 100% funded by general taxes or 100% funded by fees but not a combination of both?
Reliance on user fees makes sense in many instances, particularly if user fees encourage personal responsibility and more efficient use of resources.