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'Sneaker Tax' Eyed as Answer to an Illinois Nonprofit's Problems

Sneaker TaxAn Illinois state representative has proposed levying a special tax on all sales of athletic shoes in the state, with revenue from the tax going to fund youth programs.

House Bill 978, the Athletic Shoe Retailer Tax Act, was introduced on Jan. 28 by Rep. William Davis and would impose a 25-cent tax on every pair of sneakers sold in the state after July 1. All proceeds would go to Illinois YouthBuild, a nonprofit that provides job training for disadvantaged youth. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that budget constraints have led the state to cease funding the nonprofit for the last three years. Davis says the sneaker tax would bring in $3 million a year for the organization.

The full text of the bill affirms that the sneaker tax is limited to athletic shoes only, which it defines as "a shoe designed primarily for sports or other forms of physical activity, and includes, without limitation, shoes designed for running, walking, basketball, baseball, football, tennis, or soccer."

While new taxes always raise some hackles, there hasn't been much backlash against the proposal thus far. Product-specific taxes often take the form of "sin taxes," targeting vices like smoking and alcohol-use in an attempt to both raise revenue and reduce those behaviors, but the sneaker tax certainly isn't aimed at reducing sales or stopping kids from playing sports. And at just 25 cents a pair, the tax is unlikely to be a real burden to Illinois consumers. Even if retailers pass along the entire cost of the sneaker tax to their customers, it's hard to imagine anyone spending $160 on a pair of Nike Air Jordans sweating an extra 25 cents on the receipt.

And while the Illinois Retail Merchants Association expressed opposition to the bill when contacted by the Sun-Times, the fact that it steers revenue to youth programs means that it has some built-in support from parents who might otherwise balk at being taxed on their kids' soccer cleats. Local news site DNAinfo Chicago talked to several parents shopping at a Nike Outlet who said they were fine paying an extra quarter for shoes to assist disadvantaged young people.

"What's an extra 25 cents?" said one parent quoted by the site. "Paying more to buy gym shoes is not a problem for me, especially if the extra money would be used to finance youth programs."

Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at Matt.Brownell@teamaol.com, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.

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I live in Illinois. They will tax anything that they can or whatever phony reason they can think up. We are run top to bottom by the Democrats and I admit that they are most creative when thinking up new things to tax the residents for, and most corrupt when spending the revenue.

February 17 2013 at 7:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

We don't need more youth programs.
What we need is the economy like it used to be when women could afford to stay home and pursue the most important job in the world-being a Mom.
They had no sneaker tax on 'Happy Days".

February 17 2013 at 7:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Has anyone ever wondered how the US ever existed before with all the taxes that are levied upon us?
What gives?
And to thing that not to far back in time doctors made housecalls and brought the meds with them while women could afford to stay home and take care of the most important job in the world-being a Mom.
What went wrong?
Could it be the gov't's fault?

February 17 2013 at 7:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

YEAH GOVERNMENT!!! Tax and spend! Tax each and every thing we do! F*** our country and our citizens!!! The important thing is that the lawmakers can TAX AND SPEND!!! Bye Bye Freedom Americans!!! You voted in these dopes.

February 17 2013 at 12:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


February 16 2013 at 11:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

every state should have this tax and it should be high enough to save people's lives, since they are too ignorant to save their own

February 16 2013 at 11:17 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Bobbi's comment

Yes, it's good for our country to assume all citizens are complete dummies (like our lawmakers are). Then we can tax every little thing they do and buy in order to have these bureaucrats spend our money for us on complete crap. Good thinking Bobbi.

February 17 2013 at 12:24 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

today its 25 cents next year $1.00 10 years $5.00 ect,ect,today its running shoes next year its work boots 50 cent for the unemployed lol................................

February 16 2013 at 9:49 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

we already pay taxes for youth programs.enough is enough

February 16 2013 at 9:25 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Politicans never met a tax they didn't fall in love with. $.25 cents here, a dollar there and by the time they are done with us, there won't be any money left. I would make it a point to vote this guy out of office next time he is up for election. Oh, excuse me, I was having a "senior moment," and forgot that 52% of America just voted in November supporting bigger government, more deficit spending, corrupt politicans and a National Debt through the roof. What was I thinking?

February 16 2013 at 8:33 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ltpar's comment

You were thinking clearly. And there will be a tax on that too one day.

February 17 2013 at 12:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. And that's how they tax us. One small tax at a time. And they always frame the increase as necessary for "the children" or "the elderly" or the "middle class". Anyone who opposes the increase is obviously against children or doesn't care about children or hates children. The leftists strike again. The Socialist Alinsky's "Rules For Radicals" RULE 5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions. (Pretty crude, rude and mean, huh? They want to create anger and fear.) RULE 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)

C'mon people...it's ONLY 25 cents. Would you really withhold 25 cents from the disadvantaged youth of our fair city? What if it were 50 cents? Five dollars? It's for the children for Pete's sake! And next year it will be for some other cause that you MUST support. Progressives won't be satisfied until the have ALL of your money

February 16 2013 at 8:26 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Thomas's comment

I am one of those "elderly" people you speak of and I pay taxes also.

February 16 2013 at 8:42 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

You all voted these jerks in office.

February 17 2013 at 12:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply