Councilman wants panhandler tax - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Councilman wants panhandler tax

Jeff Berding Jeff Berding

Posted by Trina Edwards - email

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - A local councilman has a unique idea to help the city of Cincinnati with its $20 million budget shortfall.

Cincinnati councilman Jeff Berding is proposing a tax on panhandlers.

Berding says they should have to apply for a permit to ask for money, and then, that money should be taxed like a commercial business.

"The people on corners really aren't homeless, and most aren't local," said Berding. "They have drug addictions, alcohol addictions and we're giving them money for their addictions, and we shouldn't do it."

Berding says panhandlers are no different than the city's hot dog vendors or those who try to sell peanuts before Cincinnati Reds games.

The ACLU released a statement against the plan.

"This is a transparent attempt to backdoor restrictions on the free speech rights of the poorest people in Cincinnati. Soliciting donations has time and again been classified as free speech, not as a business," said ACLU of Ohio Associate Director Gary Daniels. "It is clearly intended to unfairly target only the homeless and not others who may be soliciting donations in Cincinnati."

Berding will propose the idea at the next city council meeting, which is set for August 5.

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