For example, the United States National Firearms Act of 1934 specified that anyone wanting to buy a machine gun had to pay a $200 fee for a tax stamp. According to this inflation calculator, that was equivalent to $3274.69 today. Thus the fee has gone from a significant deterrent to legal machine gun ownership to a minor inconvenience.

Rather than periodically updating fees and fines for inflation, as legislatures often do, why not specify that the fine be an amount with equivalent buying power to x amount on the date the legislation takes effect?

2 Answers 2


Australian jurisdictions have overcome this by setting fines in ”penalty units” - they then periodically revise how much a penalty unit is.


The main reason is that there are very many computations of inflation rate. A legislature would have to decide on a specific method of computing inflation (for each fine), and would have to re-pass various laws to automatically adjust fees for inflation. It's politically simpler to pass an amendment to change a number, than to agree on a sketchy concept such as "rate of inflation".

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.