An Immodest Proposal: Time for a Sex Tax


+ It has been observed that Democrats are generally in favor of taxation and Republicans are generally opposed to unnecessary sexual activity; and whereby:

+ The unintended costs of sexual activity are unacceptably high, particularly in the political arena (c.f. Messrs. Clinton, Foley, Craig, Edwards, and most recently one Mr. Levi Johnston, to name just a fraction of the available examples); and whereby:

+ The pursuit of sex is also extremely costly beyond the political realm, in terms of lost productivity, unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, and ruined marriages (and other committed relationships); and whereby:

+ The federal government is now, as always, in need of more money;

It is hereby proposed that a new “sex tax” shall be levied upon the citizens of these United States.

Let it be clear that the aim of said tax is not to deter sexual activity itself, but rather to capture some of the costs imposed by certain extraneous sexual activity that, especially once made public, tends to divert precious resources from more worthy subjects; to this end:

+ Married couples will receive a substantial credit for sanctioned, in-home sexual activity; and, conversely:

+ The highest rates shall be paid for premarital, extramarital, and otherwise unusual or undesirable sexual activity; and:

+ Sexual activity between members of the same gender; or activity between more than two participants; or in an airplane, on a beach, or in other “nontraditional” settings shall surely be taxed at a higher, though heretofore undetermined, rate. Also to be determined is a scale for noncoital activity.

The Internal Revenue Service shall be granted the full and complete authority to collect said tax. Furthermore:

+ Payment of said tax, while voluntary, is no more voluntary than payments or credits on other tax-related activities such as: charitable contributions, business-related deductions, and cash received for goods and services, and is therefore expected to stimulate a very acceptable rate of compliance; additionally:

+ Taxpayers will create a sexual paper trail that could prove advantageous in countless future scenarios, including but not limited to: employment, courtship, and participation in the political process; and:

+ The typical I.R.S. audit would become considerably more interesting for the auditor, and interesting work is a much-needed incentive to attract and retain qualified I.R.S. employees.

It should be acknowledged that determining an acceptable name for said tax may be politically difficult, much like the “estate tax” and the “death tax” are in fact nomenclaturally diverse versions of the same tax used by opposing parties; candidates to consider include: the Family Creation Tax; the Extracurricular Intercourse and Lesser Sex Act Tax; and the Shtup Tax.


+ This is not the first time such a tax has been proposed in America; in 1971, a Democratic legislator from Providence, R.I., named Bernard Gladstone proposed such a measure in his state; he called it “the one tax that would probably be overpaid,” but sadly, the measure was promptly rejected as being in “bad taste,” a position with which we summarily disagree; and whereby:

+ A similar tax does have a historical (if fictional) precedence in the writings of one Jonathan Swift, who in his acclaimed work Gulliver’s Travels noted that in a place called Laputa, “The highest tax was upon men who are the greatest favourites of the other sex, and the assessments according to the number and natures of the favors they have received; for which they are allowed to be their own vouchers.” And finally:

+ It is unclear why both Swift and Gladstone proposed that the tax be levied solely upon males but, in light of recent and less-than-recent news events, they were probably 100 percent correct to have done so.

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  1. Derek says:

    Several things to consider:

    1. I’m not sure public opinion would be very supportive of another regressive tax. As such, perhaps, the rich should be taxed at a higher rate per sexual act?

    2. Of course, I also wonder if this tax is solely for intercourse, or would there be different tax rates for different activities? Does that mean that even a playful kiss would ultimately be subject to a three cent tax?

    3. Could pornstars write off all sex as work training?

    4. If one uses contraception (and we’re on the honor system here anyway), would that reduce tax rate. It seems much of the tax is in reaction to the undesirable effects of not using contraception, so perhaps that should reduce the tax…

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  2. Brian says:

    I believe this was also once suggested in a Monty Python skit.

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  3. Nate C. says:

    We’d see the same phenomenon that occurs with the tax on goods one buys via the internet.

    We’re expected to pay sales tax on all internet purchases, just as we’d be expected to pay tax on sexual activity. Monitoring costs of internet purchases (and sex) are too high, so the IRS relies on the honor system and the threat of legal action to ensure people pay sales tax.

    If I say to the IRS that, as a young male, I buy nothing on the internet, this raises some serious questions at headquarters. But I have absolutely no motivation to pay taxes on the full amount of my internet spending, because the IRS will never find out (hypothetically, of course.) So I’ll pay the tax on a percentage of my internet purchases, but certainly not 100%.

    The sex tax faces the same problem, because it relies on “compulsory voluntary” admission of activity. Especially promiscuous members of society would never claim 100 sexual partners in a year, because the IRS would never suspect that one would have that much sex.

    The problem with the sex tax is larger than that of the internet sales tax. Abstinence is the goal of the sex tax, whereas diminished internet sales is not the goal of the sales tax. Just as there are certainly people who don’t buy anything on the internet and thus face undo scrutiny from the IRS, there are people who don’t have premarital or extramarital sex, and would thus face the same undo scrutiny.

    One way to avoid this IRS audit would be to simply pay taxes on a few sexual encounters every year to avoid suspicion, but this is a possibly unlikely and certainly unjust outcome.

    The sex tax thus might encourage sex in a certain portion of the population. This a group of people who might have remained abstinent without a tax, but faced with the choice between increased IRS scrutiny or paying a tax for a “bad” in which they do not engage, they choose to get their money’s worth and simply have sex. We’d have to balance the IRS monitoring closely, or else we’d have a severely adverse effect on our hands.

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  4. Val Park says:

    Oh, God, that’s funny!

    Killing a flock of birds with one well-shied stone. It gives “sin tax” a whole new “bracket”.

    It might be one of the few times people regret not being in a higher tax bracket.

    And we cannot have taxation without representation; after all, so many of our representatives are also engaging in such taxing behavior!

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  5. Cyrus says:

    Will there be a different rate for oral, anal, vaginal, and other forms of sex? If so, what will the difference be? If harm reduction is the goal, vaginal sex should be taxed the highest (unwanted pregnancy), followed by the others in some order. But one might argue morality.

    Will there be a tax on handjobs, technically not sex? Taking that a step further, what about a masturbation tax? Or how about we just charge everyone a per-occurrence “boner fee”?

    And a bit of a morbid thought, but would the tax apply in cases of rape?

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  6. Mike says:

    Really? Higher rates for same-gender sex?

    I see some fallout coming for that one.

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  7. Scott says:

    Indeed, that view is a commonly held MISconception. Democrats favor social services. It would be against their best interest to raise taxes for everyone. Republicans favor big business and the astronomically wealthy. Democrats want to raise taxes for those in the top income brackets and on corporations.

    Republicans convince a gullible public that they will be taxed to death and their money will be given to freeloading deadbeats. That’s how Republicans are able to get people that make less than $200k/yr to vote for them.

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  8. Matt says:

    Nate C @ 3 — The IRS does not collect a sales tax.

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