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February 2, 2023

Let’s Be Frank, the ‘Hot Dog Tax’ Didn’t Cut the Mustard

What?! You never heard of the 'hot dog tax'? You need to ketchup! 

In reality, the hot dog tax was not a tax on hot dogs per se  as Kelly Phillips Erb fires things up:

In 1971, New York managed to push through a law which imposed a state and city sales tax to restaurant bills that totaled more than a dime and less than a dollar. The price range earned the tax the moniker “hot dog tax” because it boosted the tax on lunches like hot dogs – while exempting breakfasts (at the time, cheaper than a dollar) and pricier meals. In other words, your caviar-laden baguette could have escaped taxation but not the lowly hot dog.

As you might imagine, the tax got a chili reception and its supporters found themselves in hot water:

Despite the motivation behind the hot dog tax, it was, as you can imagine, wildly unpopular. A Citizens Committee to Repeal the Hot Dog Tax was formed (yes, it was a real group) to urge [Governor Nelson Rockefeller] to ditch the tax on the “masses, not the classes.” At the helm of the committee was Robert Wagner Jr., son of the former mayor of New York City. He collected more than a million signatures on a petition signatures protesting the tax; the petition was largely ignored.

Hopefully today's politicians have learned from these situations and relish the opportunity to serve the people rather than simply kiss the buns of their benefactors. There are no weiners when our most important American traditions get burned.

[Forbes]

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