Cigarette Smokers Beware of the “Revenooers”

State governments (and the District of Columbia) desperate for ways to increase revenues, recently have discovered a new target — smokers who puchase cigarettes in other states, or from Indian reservations, that have lower tobacco taxes.  In fact, some states are becoming so aggressive in their pursuit of these monies that they have begun levying liens against people’s homes in order to collect back taxes and fines.

With tobacco taxes in many states skyrocketing — Rhode Island is the highest at $3.46 per pack — heavy smokers who try and escape the burdensome taxes by purchasing their smokes elsewhere, are being hit with multi-thousand dollar bills.  One 82-year old lady in Pennsylvania, for example, had a $4,583 lien slapped on her house, as a result of her apparently extensive purchases of cigarettes from an Indian tribe in neighboring New York.  Although an official with Pennsylvania’s revenue department was quoted as saying the state’s primary focus in using liens to collect monies from cigarette-tax scofflaws was to “educate” citizens about their tax responsibilities, the lure of additional tax revenues in tough economic times obviously trumps any kindly “educational” purpose.

The ability of state governments to monitor the internet, which is the vehicle most people utilize to purchase cigarettes from other states or Indian reservations, has made it much easier for governments to identify interstate cigarette purchasers.  States are further aided in this effort by a federal law (of course), that requires tobacco sellers to report out-of-state customers to the buyer’s state tobacco administrator.  And, as if filing a lien against one’s home was not sufficient punishment for a person daring to save a few dollars by purchasing cigarettes in another state, New York, for example, can put a person in jail if they are convicted of the heinous offense of possessing a carton of cigarettes that does not bear the Empire State’s revenue stamp.

Isn’t it wonderful to live in a free country?

82 comments Add your comment

Gary Dale Cearley

June 26th, 2009
6:34 am

This is insane! They are doing nothing illegal by avoiding taxes. What’s next? Taxation is about jurisdiction, not which state you are a citizen of.

sane jane

June 26th, 2009
7:13 am

Citizens have learned how to game the system. Kind of like how financial institutions shopped around, looking for the friendliest regulator. Indian reservations = Office of Thrift Supervision

sane jane

June 26th, 2009
7:18 am

Not sure about your comment, though, Gary. What these smokers are doing *may* be illegal. That doesn’t mean it’s also “immoral”, however.

ERS

June 26th, 2009
7:19 am

Folks need to pay attention of what is going on in Iran……If we continue down the road with this present administration…….well, you get the picture………WE”RE FED UP !!!

Daxter

June 26th, 2009
7:39 am

“the ability of state governments to monitor the internet”….. watch out America!

The fact that smokers are targeted now does not mean that the next target won’t affect you personally. Remember that Obama has said he will pay for the proposed Health Care Reform through “new income” to the government. THIS is just the beginning of how he proposes to do it! (Rmember also that he promised that 95% of Americans would see a “reduction” in their taxes. Yea……right….)

Where’s the nearest Tea Party next week? GO TO IT!!

s

June 26th, 2009
7:46 am

Next up – residents of Atlanta getting billed by city for additional sales tax on items purchased outside the city limits. Ditto – residents of higher sales tax counties who make purchases in lower tax counties. And a statewide crackdown on internet and mail order purchases where no tax was paid – you are required to report those purchases and pay use tax on them – the law already exists, just not currently enforced so hang on to your britches folks!

Sinca7

June 26th, 2009
7:57 am

Too bad! If you don’t like it, quit your nasty habit that is not only unheathy for you, but for all around you. That – or – PAY UP!!!

jack stilton

June 26th, 2009
8:07 am

These people in Dc and Ri voted for Democrats to represent them, so they shouldn’t be surprised with the high taxes. Stupidity is very expensive and they deserve what they get!

Deepdiver

June 26th, 2009
8:08 am

You Republicans need to wake up. We, the people help pay for the smokers dirty habit in medical ccsts when some can’t afford to pay their bill when they walk into the E.R. with a host of problems. I’m all for personal responsibility, but they are not personally responsible for their medical care if they can’t afford it. That is the problem. Republicans and right wingers need to not overly simplify the problem.

jconservative

June 26th, 2009
8:09 am

This is why Alexander Hamilton wanted a strong central government – he did not trust State government.

tj

June 26th, 2009
8:15 am

WOW, our government is taking more control over us with each passing day. What next ??

jman

June 26th, 2009
8:33 am

Deepdiver,
The problem with your theory is that you make the assumption that the government keeps the extra tax from cigarettes to pay for medical expenses of smokers; when in fact the feds / states have not idea where that tax revenue is being used. It’s an excuse for a tax. Just wait until they start taxing overweight, chronically sick, or cancer survivors for the perceived increased risk of future medical expenses. If people were forced to pay their own way at them emergency room, there would be no excuse for the tax.

StJ

June 26th, 2009
8:52 am

Food for thought:

“In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;
And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;
And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;
And then… they came for me… And by that time there was no one left to speak up.”

-Martin Niemöller

Michael H. Smith

June 26th, 2009
8:52 am

jconservative

June 26th, 2009
8:09 am

Funny you should mention the father of federal taxation and as noted, “federal supremacy”.

http://www.ttb.gov/public_info/special_feature.shtml

~

Daxter

June 26th, 2009
7:39 am

Yeah, I hear you. Obumer promised to cut taxes on 95% of the people before he raised taxes on 100% of the people and while campaigning on promises of populism before he was elected he is delivering socialism in his exCHANGE!

This blog topic should be a great deal of fun.

Michael H. Smith

June 26th, 2009
8:58 am

jman

June 26th, 2009
8:33 am

Thaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaank you!

….And that is the tip of iceberg so to speak on how the government makes more money on cigarettes than the tobacco companies do. Think of all the forfeited SS benefits smokers contribute to the system.

Gawingnut

June 26th, 2009
9:08 am

Why doesn’t the Imperial Government ban tobacco? Prohibition worked so well, why not do it again?

electrician

June 26th, 2009
9:16 am

time to drop the tax hammer on the alcohol industry ,using the same logic used for taxing the tobacco industry[reduced smoking, lower medical costs,increased tax revenue] we should be be able to recoup some money,reduce domestic violence,dui plus have fewer dead kids[RIP,jimmy, you were ten and in my daughters class,you would be 29 now but I still remember the DUI accident that took your life]

Michael H. Smith

June 26th, 2009
9:22 am

Gawingnut

June 26th, 2009
9:08 am

Give’em time they’ll get around to it but a better question to answer is why has the government failed to use the tax monies or the greater portion of it, to treat drug addictions and develop tobacco and alcohol cessation drugs to counteract the legal addictions the government has promoted over the years.

Ooops… my bad, silly me, what was I not thinking again: We have to fund SCHIPs and a few other good socialist Teddy Kennedy programs.

Hey, Obumer, put down the nicotine gum, let’s burn one for the kids, dude!
cough, cough, cough…

One other footnote since this is bound to come up again. Marijuana legalization fans got some bad news from a U. N. report, which says Marijuana just might not be as harmless as commonly advertised.

http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/data-and-analysis/WDR-2009.html

Californication

June 26th, 2009
9:35 am

We need to stop the ability for the government to tax what ever group of people that they don’t like; this is the legal mafia, what has America “Changed” into? We need to take a closer look at the Fairtax.org this removes the ability of the government to tax ”Special Groups” of people, by the way it also gets tax money from illegal aliens.

Yea Right

June 26th, 2009
10:12 am

As a non-smoker I agree its bad for you, however smokers are always paying the big price. This is discrimination and that my friend is illegal. On the contrary, smokers are not responsible for all the polution in this world, sitting in rush hour traffic is more dangerous to you. Lets just tax the fat, the cola addicts, the drinkers, the candy people, the gum people. Its coming, tax and tax and tax. The government no longer is working for us. We are working for them and they wont stop till they get 95% of our money.

I suggest tea party after tea party and now. Dont stop till they listen or we vote them out of office.

Only truth please

June 26th, 2009
10:23 am

Local cancer doctor sits smoking his cigs. When asked how he can smoke after all hes seen he looks down and states; “Most of the people I treat have never smoked in their lives.” So there you have it. Either smokers are hurting everyone in the world (and I doubt that) or maybe its smog, truck smoke, factories, and other environmental factors that actually create sickness. Maybe, just maybe they are taxing smokers because they dont like it.

Oh and by the way. Global warming is Global. America cant help GLOBAL waming (its bogus anyway). Its just another way to tax us stupid Americans and say the world. Yea right………………….

Michael H. Smith

June 26th, 2009
10:25 am

Yea Right

June 26th, 2009
10:12 am

Yesterday on Glenn Beck’s show he had as a guest Julianne Thompson who announced the Atlanta Tea Party was forced to cancel it’s Independence Day celebration in Gwinnett, after losing it’s location due to the objection of Gwinnett Place Mall (a Simon company.) The Tea Party had been scheduled to take place in the parking lot of the old Macy’s building at Gwinnett Place since March.

But, there is still hope…

http://www.atlantateaparty.net/2009/06/watch-for-breaking-news-on-tea-party.html

By the way, Simon is a big Democrat Obumer supported. Gee… what a coincident.

Michael H. Smith

June 26th, 2009
10:39 am

Only truth please

June 26th, 2009
10:23 am

Very astute assessment on your part, on both accounts and you are correct in pointing out “soot” as more dangerous to non-smokers than even second hand cigarette smoke that has virtually been eliminated publically, so to speak. Soot, on the other hand is indoors and outdoors year round, everywhere all the time and it kills.

Further to your point, if only the U.S. takes steps via this climate control bill non-sense now before Congress if passed into law, with India and China continuing to pollute exponentially as usual, all that will be achieved is to hamstring our already now failing Obumer economy.

Copyleft

June 26th, 2009
10:47 am

Michael: So, because China and India are dumb enough to pollute and poison their people, we should do the same?

Gawingnut

June 26th, 2009
10:59 am

We need to stop the ability for the government to tax what ever group of people that they don’t like; this is the legal mafia, what has America “Changed” into?

We do have the ability to stop the uncontrolled taxation of everything in site: the mid-term elections. I trust you’ll ALL be at the polls, bright & early to do the right thing.

What have we become? Europe lite, with a dash of Islam.

Do the Math

June 26th, 2009
11:02 am

I have no sympathy for smokers. Smoking related illnesses should be a preexisting condition and not covered by insurance or medicare,etc. It has been known to cause illness, disease and death for three and half decades and counting.

Move on to something important like the economy, Iran, Iraq, drug wars etc.

j0n

June 26th, 2009
11:09 am

Regarding your ignorance Mr. Barr, India is the largest democracy in the world, whose citizens are called Indians. People that migrate from India to the U.S. are called Indian-Americans. Please stop being incorrect

Regarding this issue, if the government gets out of the healthcare business, the government can stop telling citizens what they can and can not put in their bodies. Land of the free right?

Michael H. Smith

June 26th, 2009
11:15 am

Copyleft, you really don’t get it do you?

The pollution that China and India creates does not stay in Asia, I mean it ain’t like Las Vegas, okay? What goes on over there doesn’t stay over there, it circumnavigates the globe.

Our global pollution contribution call it dumb if you like, even remove it in the name of smart if you must, will do very little to offset the increasing amounts of pollution from emerging nations, other than further our dismal economic problems as America becomes the only global chump playing the role of super-environmentalist.

The Democrats and Obumer are using the wrong strategic plan and using a very poor arguments to bring about a green sustainable economy to do environmental conservation justice.

E

June 26th, 2009
11:20 am

Each state has the right to set its own taxes as it sees fit. Your “locally” elected representatives came together and wrote state wide tax laws. If you don’t like the state taxes, find someone to run in your local district that is against it. They do the same thing when someone buys a car out of state trying to get a lower sales tax, but when the vehicle is brought to the new state, you must pay the state of residence tax. All that said, cigarette smokers are easy targets, and big tobacco no longer has the pull it use to. As a tax issue people either need to elect new leaders to rewrite the state tax code or shut up and pay for it.

Michael H. Smith

June 26th, 2009
11:35 am

E

June 26th, 2009
11:20 am

You’re fine on the State part but you do not address the Federal Government part. We need to elect some real leaders at every level of government. I have no qualms with sin taxing as it is so-called but I do have a major problem with government not acting responsibly with the sin taxes collected by treating the addictions and diseases it promotes ; and on that note, I have no sympathy for government whatsoever or any inclinations of moving on to let irresponsible government off the hook.

Chris Broe

June 26th, 2009
11:41 am

Who woulda thunk that a cigar store Indian wasn’t just a cigar store Indian?

Michael H. Smith

June 26th, 2009
11:52 am

Yeah, know what you mean, who would ever conclude that “select group taxation” obligates government selectively to those that pay the select taxes. Disproportionate taxation without proportionate representation?

What a treble thought, the more you pay the more representation you get? Not really, Et al Alexander Hamilton who wanted to avoid the issue of direct taxation by imposing the whiskey tax.

E

June 26th, 2009
11:53 am

Michael H. Smith

I could go on and on about how I feel about the federal government’s role in regards to well…. everything. I will say this, the Federal Government has the constitutional authority to regulate commerce between the states, and it should. Now, does the federal government go beyond this… yes, no argument here and some of the laws that use the interstate commerce clause as the federal governments reason to intervene in disputes or regulation are well… just full of ****.

I agree sin taxes are fine as long as you call them it, and not some special way to fun new “legislative” adventures. I’m a non-smoker, and personally hate it, but I feel if someone wants the light up, as long as it doesn’t affect me, go for it. If you ever see the movie “Thank You for Smoking” you come to see both sides of the debate, but at the same time, really, who at this point doesn’t know cigarettes are bad for you, do we need more warnings and taxes to tell us what we already know?

Sorry I rambled a bit…

Copyleft

June 26th, 2009
11:58 am

Michael: I guess you’re not getting it either.

So if India and China’s pollution can affect us, we should spew pollution and poison right back at them–and affect our own people in the process? In the name of staying “economically competitive”? Bad idea.

Here’s an idea: Let’s do the smart and ethical thing REGARDLESS of what other nations do. How about it?

Ms. Norris

June 26th, 2009
12:04 pm

To all you people who live idyllic lives who believe those who don’t should suffer stoically, life is not so easy for everyone and sometimes you have to do whatever you have to do to make it through the day. As the great Frank Sinatra said, “whatever gets you through the night”. Just wait till the government starts coming after whatever it is that brings happiness to your life. The government does not have the right to take advantage of people’s weaknesses and addictions. The government is a parasite and scavenger.

Also, the burden of smokers on the health care is grossly overstated. The truth is fat people cost far more to the health care industry than smokers and smokers don’t usually live long enough to languish away in nursing homes for years and years. How much does that cost?

Just wait till all the smokers start smoking marijuana and then the government will have to get their blood from somewhere else.

Redneck Convert

June 26th, 2009
12:04 pm

Well, seems to me the taxes on tobacco are a dose of stupid. You tax users so they’ll quit. Then when they can’t afford it no more you have to find something else to make up for the money you don’t take in no more. So we get all these programs going on tobacco money and tobacco people out of work and unemployment benefits and then have to look around for more taxes to keep the programs going and pay the people out of work. Maybe you tax Coke or fatty food or other things. Then when people can’t afford Coke or fatty food no more you have to make up for the money lost and more people out of jobs. After awhile the undertakers are getting the healthiest looking corpses they ever seen but the guvmint has to look around for more things to tax.

Seems to me we ought to slap a buck tax on every bottle of water. People stupid enough to pay for water in a bottle won’t be bothered by it and we can get rid of a whole bunch of taxes at the same time.

That’s my opinion and it’s very true. Have a good day everybody.

Colin

June 26th, 2009
12:05 pm

“Regarding your ignorance Mr. Barr, India is the largest democracy in the world, whose citizens are called Indians. People that migrate from India to the U.S. are called Indian-Americans. Please stop being incorrect”

Native Americans still refer to their land as Indian Reservations. http://www.ftbelknap-nsn.gov/ So next time you feel like telling somebody they are wrong make sure you are correct.

Michael H. Smith

June 26th, 2009
12:15 pm

Didn’t appear to me you were rambling. In fact, I’d say you’re right on topic, E. You’ll get no counter arguments from me that supports drug use of any kind as being good for the human body under non-medical doctor’s supervised only use. As to your question directly: At the same time, really, who at this point doesn’t know cigarettes are bad for you, do we need more warnings and taxes to tell us what we already know?

No and government should use the all the money or at least a great deal of the money it confiscates off of drugs (legal and illegal) to wage war against drug addictions and drug attributable diseases. As so many have correctly pointed out previously, defeat the demand and you will defeat the supply.

Kelly Earwood

June 26th, 2009
12:17 pm

Ban cigarettes? How about banning cigar’s – which Bob Barr smokes (and received one from our Global Warming Guru, Al Gore). What about banning alcohol – bet more people kill others from their irresponsible drinking than their smoking. Nasty habit – of course it is…like we smokers don’t know that! Keep increasing taxing and we will start having riots like in Iran! Americans are getting fed (no pun intended) up with the government all in our business!!! If people think that smoker’s are the cause of all the pollution – you need to rethink!! Hell, the only place we can smoke “legally” is in our homes and outdoors! Don’t think anyone was ever indicted on vehicular manslaughter for smoking and driving…but they sure have for drinking and driving! Heavily tax the consumers of alcohol – talk about health risks and the costs of insurance for alcoholics!!!

tired of it all

June 26th, 2009
12:29 pm

I think Redneck Convert is correct. So is the post by stj referring to what happened in the Natzi regeim. If we don’t say something now, there will be no one to say anything when the Govt. wants to tax what is valuable to you. Maybe people in rural areas should pay a clean air tax. I think 1,000 per month per person should do it. Now all you rural dwellers, start paying up so people crowded into urban Atlanta can catch a break, but wait a minute, the govt. can tax urban dwellers for the luxury of living in crime ridden Atlanta.

And on and on. Get my drift?

Michael H. Smith

June 26th, 2009
12:48 pm

Copyleft

Copyleft

June 26th, 2009
11:58 am

No, I get it and we disagree adamantly. I find nothing about committing economic suicide as being ETHICAL.

The BAD IDEA is not having the energy producing means and products to use in place before attempting to replace the 60% of the coal generated electrical power and the 60% consumption of refined oil to power automobiles in this country through taxation and hyper inflation.

To do the right moral and ethical thing would mean throwing Al Gore over board, ditching his carbon taxes, leaving on the table and using all of our non- or low polluting options that have been taken off the table and giving incentives to achieve renewably clean energy independence.

Salvatore Giuseppe

June 26th, 2009
12:57 pm

I shop all over the internet looking for the best deals on anything I need, and have found things for as cheap as half of what I would pay at a store or site like Amazon. Why should smokers not be able to do the same thing?

Its called a ‘free market’ for a reason

Chris Broe

June 26th, 2009
1:05 pm

Cnn reported that a Sheltand Pony has gotten loose and is killing small baby kittens all over North Georgia. Several witnesses reported seeing tramplings. (Oh the hairballity)

Fox News just broke with this: Jehovah’s Witnesses are claiming that the end of time is near, and are going to start selling “Armeggedon for Dummies” handbooks so mankind has even a remote shot at surviving the second coming. We need to pinpoint exactly when Judgement Day is due.

If not, we’re finished, not just as a species, but as children of the universe. That’s 4 sure, that’s 4 dang sure.

Copyleft

June 26th, 2009
1:11 pm

Michael: Interesting. And I find nothing ethical in the people who whine about “how much it’ll COST to stop poisoning everybody!”

Sorry, but that really doesn’t matter. Spewing poison = bad. The fact that “other people are doing it too”… well, didn’t your mom teach you how well that argument works?

j0n

June 26th, 2009
1:41 pm

Colin, the fact that some native americans may still incorrectly refer to themselves as “Indians” is of little relevance here. Columbus’ lack of geographical understanding does not rewrite thousands of years of history regarding indigenous peoples of the american continents and it is foolish to continue to perpetuate his error. To be technical, indigenous americana are most likely descendants of Eurasian tribes whom crossed the land bridge (located at the modern Bering Straight) and migrated south from modern Alaska. Incorrectly using the word “Indian” to describe indigenous americans is not only annoying, but also confusing for any unfamiliar with this strange folly in modern American English. Lastly, the fact that such an elementary error would be made by a politician is what I found most surprising, prompting my initial comment. Knowledge of geography and history is a virtue for any political scientist worth his salt :)

SmokeKills

June 26th, 2009
2:38 pm

The federal government needs to raise taxes on cigarettes to $10 per pack to pay for all the health problems that smokers impose on society, and to fund a clean up of all these millions of cigarette butts thrown all over the ground, streets, sidewalks, roadways, etc. Smokers have no rights!

woodie

June 26th, 2009
3:03 pm

They are doing this because they can get away with it. Big Brother has an insatiable appetite for the under-represented. Auto pollution is a thousand times more severe than cigarette smokers. Non-smokers try this. Go to a bar full of hundreds of chain smokers and sit for 4 hours. Then go park your own car in a closed garage for 30 minutes. Then report back here and tell me you are not a hippocrite.

wbk

June 26th, 2009
3:04 pm

SmokeKills

June 26th, 2009
2:38 pm
“Smokers have no rights”

Are you the same people who say this is a land of freedom. The fact that cigarettes caused medical bills has been paid. Remember the billion dollars the cigarette companies had to pay out for the recovery of past health bills? Then there are the added taxes to compensate future health bills.

You do not like smoking so you want everyone else to be like you…dont you? I live for quality of life not quantity. I do not want to be helped to the bed to the potty to the feeding tray…that is not living.

You want more tax money then tax lipstick. Twelve year olds to 100 years olds use it–mostly female but some males too.

You whackos do not want me or anyone else to choose the way we want to live. YOU SOUND LIKE THE LEADER OF IRAN! Soon people will start killing each other over this. That blood will be on your heads. Americans will take IT for only so long–even if it is their neighbor.

wbk

June 26th, 2009
3:08 pm

electrician:

I am very sorry for your loss. The person who did it should be punished not the whole nation.

Where in the constitution does it say you have the right to live forever or you get to pick your time, place, and method of death?

You loss does not constitute my loss of being who I am.

Jefferson

June 26th, 2009
3:49 pm

High taxes on nails just takes food from poor kids mouths. The gov’t is just the middle man in the dope deal.

Tax bibles too and then everyone can pay, sinners and the non sinners — the hypocrites can pay twice.

Knock yourself out tea partiers, you are wasting your time. Kent State made a beliver out of me.

Have a good weekend, the weather should be good. :)