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.


wow, some of you people aren't too bright. of course it's a joke!


This is a brilliant idea! The negative externalities of sex have too long been a burden on society.

BUT, you have made an error--the tax rate on same-sex copulation should be lower, not higher. Lesbians have the lowest rate of STD transmission of any group. And I would guess (though without any data to back it up) that gay male sex partners have the lowest incidence of unplanned pregnancy.


I say we do a Boston Sex Party and rebel against such immodest proposals.

johnny five

i just love when hordes of people discuss obviously satirical suggestions with completely straight virtual faces.

Nate C.

I think some of us (at least me) realized this was a joke, but still thought the implications of a sex tax are interesting.

We better get our arguments ready for when some politician reads this and doesn't realize it's a joke!


Did I stumble on a 'net wormhole to

are we seriously considering this congress? if so, I would hope that there's a clause wherein members of congress and other public figures must be 3-4 times the tax level of "normal" folks, as they are "role models" for the rest of us. Then things like having the homosexual affairs exposed would cost these @##$^ers more than just the public embarrassment.

scott cunningham

In one of my favorite papers on this topic, see Ayres and Baker's 2005 University of Chicago Law Review paper, A Separate Crime of Reckless Sex. The idea of a sex tax is not crazy; it seems optimal under certain conditions, for certain problems (like one night stands and date rape).


Most sex would be difficult to catalog for the purposes of a tax. It's a 'free black market'.

However, we could tax one black market by bringing it out into the open. Legalize prostitution and tax that.


Shtup tax...priceless.




Now that I have your attention... If your intent is to reduce the negatives associated with much sexual activity, how about taking the opposite tack and eliminating the tax on contraceptives, most importantly, condoms?

Karl Craig-West

Why not have a sex tax? They tax just about everything else anyway?

I just want to know if men who are well-endowed will have a 'luxury tax' imposed on them???


Spread Betting Community


The next time I see a journalist asking,

1)Why is the birth rate declining?

2)Why are there no female CEOs?

I'm going to throw the book at him... (no not the bible)Extra tax credits for married couples?!! So now a married working woman has to work more hours to get the same $$, come home, still take care of the kids, clean the house because a large number of men still consider that the woman's "job", nevermind have the kid delivered and then get back to work the next day because you are the CEO and you wouldn't want to be seen as weak... are you kidding?! We should be thankful he's out visiting "her". Super-mom can put her feet up and relax... and she doesn't have to be on her back as well! Yup, all the work-tipping is a very LARGE DISINCENTIVE to work AND have a family! Stay at home moms are price takers and already have sex as a "duty" to earn their keep. It's nice that business magazines write up cameo pieces that show the woman who can do it all. But for anyone less than wonderwoman... no thanks. Is it time to legalize prostitution so we can tax this properly? And women can outsource a time and energy consuming duty. Great idea! I would adjust your parameters for the tax though.


Sam Clemens

I can't tell which is funnier, this proposal or the fact that some people actually think it is serious


I can't believe this is necessary (and no one else did it yet), but for all of you who got upset about this, please look up A Modest Proposal:

Especially note the part about SATIRE.


This is nothing more than a vehicle for Congress to efficiently tax the Internet through an unseen back door.


People! This isn't a moral tax! It is a tax on the negative externalities of sex: political scandals, teenage pregnancies, STD's, and others. With the media being flooded by these events, I can definitely see why the government would want to tax these activities. These 'activities' are costing the US welfare system (the teen pregnancies issue) and with such events such as Jaimie Lynn Spears, they are seemingly more attractive and glamorous to very impressionable adolescents. These 'activities' are leading to a decrease in credibility of politicians, with the scandals in the government positions. So it makes sense that the government wants to take some action to reduce these negative effects but as many other have stated, this is one of THE LEAST effective methods of doing so.

The problem with this tax is that it would be difficult (probably impossible) to impose. Having the IRS mandate logs of sexual activity would not be the most effective way of getting information. And without information, there would be no way to monitor sexual activity, much less tax (control) it. So yes, complete invasion of privacy, but it doesn't seem like this legislation will be passed anytime soon.

I agree with BrianCMS, about watching this being debated in Congress. But this isn't just a conservative issue. As mentioned in the article, a Democratic legislator from Rhode Island proposed this in 1971. So, this is an issue that BOTH sides are concerned with but the way in which to address it is the yet to be resolved.


dim light bulb

@synapticmisfires (#30)...and these people are all readers of a NYT blog that requires a relatively high level of intellectual sophistication!

disembodied head of richard nixon

"In America we have so much freedom ... freedom to choose which hand our sex-monitoring chip is implanted in ..."


Aren't their social goods to sex? Aren't people happier, more productive, etc. when they are having it? The idea that sex is some sort of social ill because of the financial cost of some of the consequences seems ridiculous.


You mean you want to tax... "thingy"?