New years eve, often a time of drinking, smoking, and pretty much all of the “vices” that we all do. All in one night! Then the very next day, in the dimly lit room with the TV turned down, we decide on our new years resolutions. These are often things like, drinking less, smoking less, walking more, cycling more, or something along those lines. One guy that is very famous for his actions he decides on once a year is Mark Zuckerberg, who is currently only eating meat that he himself has killed for a year! This has a great effect on each person, not only on your health, but your bank balances, because we all know how expensive fuel is getting in the UK now.
But it is not the same story for everyone. The tax man suffers a lot at this time of the year, the only thing the tax man has to cling onto around January is that these resolutions are very short-lived normally. This may sound like a good thing, because lets face it, everyone hates the tax man. But this can have quite an effect on the our government. Vice taxes contributes around 10 % towards total tax the government generates, and the money spent on services such as civil servants, police, and health care.
We don’t really notice it too much, but the amount we spend on vice taxes a year can mount up when you consider that 53p of a pint of beer is tax, or £2.18 on a typical bottle of wine, and 63% of the cost of petrol is tax, nearly 75% of the cost of cigarettes is tax.
Considering the state of the UK economy now, a decrease in the tax generated is painful for the government! Although there are certain benefits to the government too of the population giving up these “vices”. Such as the decrease in the demand for health services in the short-run. For example, one year after the smoking ban was implemented in the UK, there were 1,200 less admissions for emergency heart attacks. This reduces the pressure on our health services, and means less money needs to be spent there. Good news! But this is only a short-term benefit really as the same people will probably have health problems later in life.
The government cant simply increase taxes to counter this because it just means people will be more likely to buy them using the black market, or from another country avoiding the British taxes. In 2000 78% of the tobacco consumption didn’t pay duty! Or maybe the population and industries will look at alternative ways to reduce costs. For example the average car in 2000 did 34 mpg, whereas a car in 2011 averaged at 44mpg, and on top of that, the miles travelled in cars and vans is decreasing year on year because of the cost of fuel, because a lot of the car journeys made are less than 2 miles, which means there are plenty of other methods of travelling that distance when you come to decide your new years resolutions.
I personally have never had any new years resolutions because I know I won’t stick to them. But a lot the population do, and it makes people feel better about themselves for the time they stick to it, they may even feel better and have more money to spend or save. I don’t think the government quite sees it like that somehow, and they suffer somewhat hoping we return to our vices so they can generate a little more cash to get us out of the hole we have found ourselves in!