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

electrician

June 26th, 2009
4:29 pm

wbk at 3;08….the topic is. taxes levied on tobbaco to offset its cost to society,its not about punishing the whole nation, not everyone drinks alcohol or smokes, so tax the booze the same way ,for the same reason

Michael H. Smith

June 26th, 2009
5:15 pm

Copyleft

June 26th, 2009
1:11 pm

When logic fails impish works for you? Get serious. Silliness is no solution and poisoning our economy will not save the whales or suddenly turn the earth green. The issues I raised concerning the other major world polluters is a very valid one, which you’ve failed to address satisfactorily in an “adult manner”. Without all parties working as honest brokers to address global pollution concerns what you, the Democrats and Obumer are offering us is tantamount to U.S. nuclear disarmament with the old Soviet Union building more nuclear weapons at an accelerated pace and proliferating them globally.

Without China, India and the other emerging nations signing on board under a policy of trust but verify, we will in very point of fact as previously stated be the only global chump in the world playing the super-environmentalist fool – add for their entertainment at our expense and the world be no real less the poisoned.

Michael H. Smith

June 26th, 2009
5:23 pm

electrician

June 26th, 2009
4:29 pm

Government has made money off the two legalized national OTC drugs of tobacco and alcohol. The costs to society real as they are leaves room for debate to be made against government correctly addressing these sad social ills it has promoted for government profit.

gatorman770

June 26th, 2009
5:49 pm

Don’t like Gwinnett Place disallowing the 4th of July TEA party?

Call Gwinnett Place management and tell them you will never shop there again like I did!

How do like the thought of having our privacy invaded by a huge census questionaire, that is unauthorized by the constitution which just requires a count of citizens, but threatens to fine us $5000 for not answering dozens of personal questions BUT does not ask the all important question of whether you’re a legal citizen!

Michael H. Smith

June 26th, 2009
6:08 pm

j0n

June 26th, 2009
1:41 pm

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.

And to people like me of Indigenous American ancestry, Indain is one more ethnic slur (that’s racial slur for the weak minded who depend on RACE) from the almighty whitey side of my mixed origin that I can live without this ignorant society conversationally mis-using.

A more affable term to me personally would be “Amerigenous” to describe America’s original people and their mixed descendants, when occasions to publically parade family heirlooms should seldom arise to met ancestral-ethnic description. First and foremost, I’m thoroughly an American.

Michael H. Smith

June 26th, 2009
6:19 pm

gatorman770

June 26th, 2009
5:49 pm

On question one: I done that long ago on another issue.

On question two: I don’t like it. In fact, illegal aliens should not count at all. They should be forced to leave the country via compulsion or direct deportation.

And when my ignorant Federal Bigoted Government ask for my RACE my answer will be, Human.

Ron

June 26th, 2009
6:49 pm

Federal government, State governments – the power is too much. If I didn’t have a family or if they were not all tied into the Internet like they are, I’d probably give it up and go back to reading books. The general population is so fearful of change we’ll never get enough Libertarians or members of other parties to matter – not even enough to impact the two major’s behavior. The government exists to perpetuate itself above all else.

ron

June 26th, 2009
6:59 pm

first of all there are american indians who dont care. i happen to be one of them. if your letting something that stupid get you all bent out of shape then you need to get your prioreties straight. stop acting like your5 and your the only one that deals with racial slurs.

on the other hand. obama is a horrible excuse for a politician weather it be democrate or republican. i love cigs. they calm me down. i was born with horrible anger issues. smoking has helped me more than anything. and you say it the worst for health costs. i am a firefighter and if anyone costs money its us, but you wont say anything about that because you dont care as long as we are doing something for you. plus even though we cost money. volunteer firefighters saved the country 68 billion in tax dollars over the past 2 years. so i agree with tax one thing, tax it all. you would think the president would not discriminate due to the fact that he has dealt with it not ony because he is black but black with white parents due to the adoption. come on people getyour heads on straight.and for whomever said it; the state can not make a law that underminds a federal one. it has to equal or superceed said law. so know what the hell your talking about before you say it.

Michael H. Smith

June 26th, 2009
8:54 pm

Glad you let us in on your anger issues, I’d of never guessed it.

Derek Pollard

June 26th, 2009
9:46 pm

I am not going to loose sleep over the rsing cost of smoking. What do I care about the financial burdens of those who engage in smoking? Smoking is self desecration and has brought nothing but misery and suffering to society. If you want to really fix healthcare, get rid of smoking. High taxes on smokes are a good start.

Michael H. Smith

June 26th, 2009
10:35 pm

Yeah, a good start to fund nicotine addiction treatments to better put an end to the misery of smokers who pay a premium tax and get no premium benefits from governments that profit off their very dumb choice to become addicted.

Ah but just wait until the fat tax becomes a federal law. Perhaps then a few holier than thous might come to grips with their own human frailties and irresponsible government selectively profiteering from them. That is, if the carbon tax or “soot tax” that passed in the House today doesn’t change the eating habits of jobless Americans. :)

jveritas24

June 26th, 2009
10:48 pm

Try this one for insanity. In one city in California, smoking in one’s car is permitted only if the windows are rolled up. So there you sit — stalled in the ubiquitous heavy traffic — windows rolled up per fiat — while exhaust fumes are freely, merrily, and legally belched into the atmosphere all around you. But one has technically committed a misdemeanor if a window happens to be cracked open a bit, and a tiny wisp of cigarette smoke escapes.

Here’s an experiment: pull into your garage and leave the engine running. Light up a cigarette and begin chain smoking. Which one will take you out first — the cigarette smoke or the carbon monoxide from your exhaust? You needn’t really try this — take my word for it. The CO will win. But IT is legal in Santa Monica.

Here’s another. Take a stop-watch with you to your healthcare provider (if you’re lucky enough to have one) and complain of, say, an ingrown toenail. Then start your watch running and count the seconds until your care-giver asks you if you smoke. If your answer is yes, then be a bit skeptical when you are told that smoking is the source of your toenail crisis!

Folks … we are fast becoming a nation of nutcases!

Michael H. Smith

June 26th, 2009
11:00 pm

jveritas24

June 26th, 2009
10:48 pm

By the way it was a California environmentalist group that killed the pollution free electric car of many years ago.

Yep, nutjobs!

electrician

June 26th, 2009
11:55 pm

Michael H. at 5:23 yes the gov. has made a pile of money as you said and another pile was handed out to states by tobacco companies a few years back, I’m not at all for this selective taxation myself, in my previous post at 4;29 is to point out that this whole thing is a very slippery slope,I don’t think that gov involvement in rehab will be either cost effective or all that productive, judging how gov. has managed other social programs in the last 50 or more years. to go with your point of gov. profits , in the early 70;s when i was in high school if you were at least 16 yrs. old you were allowed to smoke on campus, now all these years later the ones addicted since high school, for the most part are paying for their own insurance and have the disposable income to indulge teir vices. so naturally the gov. wants their cut….makes you wonder

Bob

June 27th, 2009
7:24 am

If the repubs monitored the internet to try to find terrorists the way dems use it to find tax cheats, the ACLU would have it’s panties in a wad. They put a lein on an old ladies house for dodging taxes but when it comes to one of them they get a job in Obama’s cabinet.

Michael H. Smith

June 27th, 2009
10:19 am

electrician
June 26th, 2009
11:55 pm
Electrician – I’m glad to hear your opinion on government involvement. It might surprise you to know “our thoughts” on that subject are more closely aligned than you may have perceived. Perhaps that was my fault in failing to bring proper clarity to the subject at hand. I agree government shouldn’t do the rehab. In the same way that I don’t believe government should be involved in the healthcare business, and for the very same reasons you have brought to fore. In fact, part of what I’m driving at is an opposition intro to the upcoming push by the Democrats and the Obumer administration’s attempt to control our healthcare under a so-called Public Plan or Option.

That said, before going of topic, as you made clear there is a very slippery slope and in my opinion government seems always too willing to lead taxpayers, in general, down that pathway. Government’s involvement with cigarettes or tobacco is certainly one such case in point. Government played a major role in the addiction of millions of us, you even pointed out and correctly so, how that in some schools at least, you were allowed to smoke. All the while Government was collecting taxes for their role as a “drug pusher” and enabler.

Now years afterwards our good caring health concerned government wants to reverser its role playing to that enforcer and doctor. Unfortunately, government doesn’t want to give up one penny of the money it collected as drug pusher and enablers to pay for the clean up of the mess government created by assisting in addicting people, now that government decided it wants to play doctor.

This leads directly to my point: Government should return a good portion of the selective tax money it took from smokers to them, so they can pay for nicotine recovery treatment and any needed cessation drugs administered under the control of real doctors that they choose, not the government, so smokers hopefully can become smoke free recovering nicotine addicts.

Eventually, all sin taxes a.k.a. selective taxes of this nature should be proportionally returned via directly distribution to the sinful payers, for them to buy the more expensive health insurance (because they smoke) or health services under a Private Public or Co-Op healthcare plan were we make the choices and we control our own healthcare money not the government or business.

Anyway you choose to look at it government, an irresponsible government, is obligated for the bad choices it made in regards to cigarettes and addicting millions of its citizens. And I’m not buying Obumer’s phony hogwash about this increase in tobacco taxes being for the protection of the next generation.

His, Obumer’s “D” government will do no better by that next generation, than it has done by us!

Michael H. Smith

June 27th, 2009
10:30 am

Whoa, way too many typos, excuse me while I go try to wake-up. :?

GOP is gone

June 27th, 2009
12:33 pm

What a sham. I have ZERO pity or tolerance of smokers. When you add up all the taxes that are shelled out daily for the medical needs of smokers, the pitiful tax does not begin to repay the REST of us tax payers that choose not to slowly kill ourselves. How about this compromise, if someone has made themselves have lung cancer, a heart attack, COPD and dependent on oxygen to breath or any other smoking related illness, then they cannot claim any Medicare or Medicaid benefits for these chronic conditions brought on by their addiction to cigarettes. Then and only then we will lift the heavy tax burden and let them all puff away. Knock yourselves out, smoke all day long, just don’t expect ME to pay your medical bills.

Michael H. Smith

June 27th, 2009
1:02 pm

GOP is gone

June 27th, 2009
12:33 pm

HOOEY!

Government and YOU have never paid one red copper for my medical care, of any kind to date.

booger

June 27th, 2009
5:14 pm

Taxes should not be used to modify behavior of for social engineering period. That was never the intent of giving government the power to tax.

Once the government starts this there is really no end to where it could lead.

Michael H. Smith

June 27th, 2009
6:40 pm

booger

June 27th, 2009
5:14 pm

Too late: Government under your given concept and definition as stated started that process better than 200 years ago when Alexander Hamilton imposed the Whiskey Tax.

True to course, there really is no end to where it HAS LED and IS LEADING.

Our sin taxing Government is a self-serving dishonest broker.

Michael H. Smith

June 27th, 2009
6:53 pm

A Federal Lawsuit to Recover Tobacco Losses is Groundless As Government Profits from Tobacco

Another crazy government lawsuit is President Clinton’s proposed suit against tobacco companies to get a reimbursement of federal moneys supposedly lost due to tobacco’s health effects.
But the President never mentions that government makes more money from tobacco than it loses.

Government averages 53 cents in taxes per pack of cigarettes sold,5 and, since smokers have an 18 to 36 percent chance of dying early, they use less nursing home facilities and Social Security and Medicare benefits.
In a 1997 analysis, Professor W. Kip Viscusi, then the director of Harvard Law School’s Program on Empirical Legal Studies, concluded that government saves 32 cents for every pack of cigarettes sold. When taxes are included, every pack of cigarettes saves 85 cents.6

http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA257.html

Michael H. Smith

June 27th, 2009
6:56 pm

Philip Morris says the government already receives $6 billion a year in tobacco tax revenue and makes more money per pack from cigarettes than the industry does. In addition, it says, the government provided free cigarettes to servicemen until 1974 and continues to subsidize tobacco farmers.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/smoke/smoke291.htm

Michael H. Smith

June 27th, 2009
6:57 pm

Next, the chorus to raise taxes on tobacco has a very unhealthy side affect. Tobacco is legal. If it is so unhealthy then ban it and make it illegal. Otherwise, there are serious side affects from deciding to highly tax a legal product. Did you realize that state government makes more money per pack of cigarettes than the tobacco companies? Did you realize that the federal government also makes more money per pack than the tobacco companies.

While serving in the state legislature I actually witnessed legislative debates and legislation where government officials wanted to protect and give special preference to the tobacco companies that entered the global lawsuit settlement. The legislators wanted to lean on and punish the other tobacco companies that didn’t pay money to the states under the settlement. I have seen the financial planners of the state take into account and depend upon the taxes coming from tobacco.

Chris Clem
Signal Mountain
jchrisclem@comcast.net

http://www.tnchart.org/news/news_chattanoogan010607.html

Michael H. Smith

June 27th, 2009
7:00 pm

The Federal Government makes approximately 2.5 times more profit per pack of cigarettes than do the tobacco companies.

http://www.calnews.com/archives/CalNewsOpEd/ctn092499tob.htm

GOP is gone

June 29th, 2009
3:44 am

Well Michael, Like the great Sam Cook said, Puff, Puff Puff. One less GOPer around. And I have worked in health care for 30 years. Don’t begin to lecture me on the effects of smoking. By the way do you prefer to be a “Pink Puffer” or a “Blue Blower”? Either way, RED is not an option

Michael H. Smith

June 30th, 2009
12:23 am

Jerko, save me the small talk from your even smaller nameless pinko mind. In the end, any way you want it or no, there really is no option. You can put that in your 30 years. Don’t worry somebody will cart it off and bury it after all is said and done anyhow.

Huff or puff was not the key issue, now was it? Or did you miss that part deliberately?

Protecting governments money making racketeering to cover government’s operating costs is all that matters, especially among the slimy socialist Democrats on a bent to create and fund more and more welfare nanny state entitlements at someone else’s expense, even if that means knowingly with forethought and malice assisting them to an early grave.

And to think Kevorkian gets convicted for murder…

Sassy

July 13th, 2009
9:01 am

It is a top time to start growing your own tobacco. It is simple and requires nearly no land. Let them run out of money.

Smart Reader

July 20th, 2009
10:38 am

Read carefully folks. The tobacco seller is required to be a snitch. SO, put down a FAKE name and send them somewhere harder to track like a PO box, a commercial mail receiving agency (The UPS store), etc. DONT HAVE IT GO TO YOUR HOUSE WITH YOUR REAL NAME. Pay with a money order, prepaid credit card (yes, they have those and your name isnt on it) or similar anonymous payment. Or mail cash, I do it all the time.

shnootsy

August 24th, 2009
10:43 pm

Wow and the debate goes on.I just want to add my 2 cents.For all you morons that have never smoked you have no Idea of what your talking about.I have been smoking for more years then I can remember.I have tried everything availble to try and stop.Tried the patch ..didn’t work Tried Wellbutrin..didn’t work.If you think it’s that easy why don’t you try heroin the addiction is considered easyer to quit then nicotine.That being said this issue is more about a runaway socialist government than wether or not I offend you tree hugging morons with my unstopable habit.Just wait till they find something you have no control over to tax the crap out of you with.

Gerofiersit

September 17th, 2009
8:16 am

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I expect to learn a lot here.

staciarosa

July 16th, 2010
3:39 am

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