TAX ME IF YOU CAN

Spain’s bizarre tax laws make it easier to sell porn than theater tickets

In 2012, Spain’s ruling party raised taxes on theater and movie tickets to 21%. The tax rate on magazines, including pornographic ones, is only 4%.

So, according to the Guardian, a theater group called Primas de Riesgo has made the decision to start selling back issues of the pornographic magazine Gente Libre; a free ticket to the company’s current show comes with. The magazines are sourced from a collector and sell for about $20.

It’s part economically rational act, and part public protest meant to highlight a law that seems pretty absurd. The disparity in the tax doesn’t make much sense, and seems pretty easily circumvented—making it not just a culturally troublesome tax, but a poorly designed one at that.

The theater group’s name translates to risk premium, referring generally to the extra yield demanded by investors in Spanish bonds as compensation for the country’s shortcomings as a worthy creditor. The bond market has improved since 2012, when the group was started, and the country is in a much less precarious financial position. It hasn’t quite caught up to Germany, but it’s far closer:

Spain-Germany-yield-spread-10-year-benchmark-Spread_chartbuilder (1)

But it still has massive unemployment, particularly for young people, even compared to other struggling European countries:

Youth-unemployment-rate-Spain-Greece-Italy-Euro-zone_chartbuilder

Maybe the government doesn’t exactly want to encourage theater goers with subsidies. But its current strategy is more likely to raise ridicule than substantial revenue.

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