The City Council needs to observe the professional panhandlers to find out the big picture. I will admit that there are some worthy individuals with true hard-luck stories. But the professional panhandlers outside of Walmart, Target, mall entrances and at Highway 153 exits off the highway are a well-oiled machine. They trade locations, signs and shticks. These are not poor, indigent, unlucky travelers or homeless individuals.
Think about it. They are always the same group of beggars. They receive “donations” at every traffic light cycle collecting at least $2-5 dollars a cycle, 30 cycles per hour, 8-10 hours each day, seven days a week. You do the math. I would wager that some of these professional panhandlers make $30-60,000 a year, depending upon location and time of day. Tax free, all cash, and no peddlers license which Chattanooga enacted a decade ago. They trade signs and locations weekly, wear a different cap or shirt. The signs are easily folded for ease of concealment and transport.
On one hand this speaks to the generosity of Chattanoogans. On the other hand, if you empty your pockets for them, they may mouth the words “Bless You,” but in their minds they are reveling in the fact that there is a sucker born every minute.
Round them up on the basis of no peddlers license, legally fine them something significant, and then turn them over to the IRS.
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Be careful what you wish for. If this were taxable income and considered earned income then they just might qualify for the refundable earned income credit, child tax credit and additional child tax credit putting taxpayers on the hook for more financial support. Currently gifts are not taxable to the receiver and besides the IRS has already ruled this is not income to the beggars. In addition shutting them down all together is probably unconstitutional.
A better solution might be to not contribute to them.