Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The New Bootlegger

Taxing our "sins" is always an easy way to get more revenue for government. In Ohio and elsewhere they used the "sin" tax to build various stadiums and here in South Dakota we have chosen to greatly increase taxes on at least one sin (another, alcohol is being addressed this year) to help finance government when the cigarette tax was passed last year. When proposed I called BS on their attempt to sell it as a way to finance quit smoking programs as the $5 million earmarked for that task was only earned after an additional $30 million had made its way into the state's coffers.

Whatever the real purpose, it was reported last month that South Dakota had issued 20 percent fewer tax stamps than they had the year before marking either a smashing success in getting people to quit smoking, or an ever growing trend of people going elsewhere to buy their smokes. Apparently this drop in tax stamps (re:taxes) has the South Dakota Department of Revenue and Regulation thinking it's the latter as they have requested and gotten an amendment to SD 10-50-6 added to this years legislative session to address this.

SB8 looks to eek out every nickel possible by adding single packs to the statute (SD 10-50-6) that covers cigarette bootlegging. It currently only covers those caught with over 2000 cigarettes not carrying a SD stamp but if passed would cover as little as one partial pack.

" Any person who possesses or receives cigarettes that do not bear a tax stamp or imprint indicating the South Dakota cigarette tax has been paid shall pay the tax imposed pursuant to § 10-50-3."

I can remember back in my Navy days driving through California and the South West and having to stop at checkpoints that looked for foreign fruit. Will we be seeing checkpoints soon at our borders and outside of reservations looking to catch those with out of state cigarettes? Probably not considering Governor Mikey is also looking to gut the Highway Patrol budget but one never knows.

Either way you might want to hide your cigarettes when stopped for other reasons, the tax man cometh and he will find you sooner or later. Those extra nickels and dimes are needed by our "small government" legislators to finance the latest "nanny state" law whatever that might be this time around.

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