State Governments Set Their Sights on Cigarette Bootleggers

From the new issue of Governing magazine

Over the last decade, states and the District of Columbia have aggressively pushed to increase cigarette taxes -- collectively hiking them 100 separate times. Today, more than half the retail price of a pack of cigarettes is composed of taxes and other fees, and last year, cigarettes generated more than $16.8 billion for state governments, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That aggressive push has had an unintended consequence: It’s made the cigarette market very attractive to smugglers and bootleggers.

The intent behind cigarette taxes has always been to discourage an unhealthy habit that increases health-care costs while generating revenue in a way that is politically palatable to most voters. But all those cigarette taxes give criminals extra incentives: They make money if they can get away with selling cigarettes sans the state fees. Estimates of just how much cigarette tax evasion costs states are hard to come by, though the Government Accountability Office is expected to take a stab at the number later this year. California has previously pegged the cost of cigarette tax evasion to the state at $182 million annually, plus another $94 million for other tobacco products.

As a result, states are trying to recoup the revenue they’ve lost from cheats, and they’re launching high-profile takedowns of cigarette tax scofflaws. The Michigan Treasury Department is notifying 300 businesses that it will start cracking down on those selling homemade cigarettes without a tax stamp. Pennsylvania recently put more than 2,000 liens on homes and properties of residents who didn’t pay taxes on cartons bought online, and New York City has billed more than 7,000 customers $7.1 million for buying untaxed cigarettes online from retailers with names like eSmokes.com. New York City also sued 32 residents accused of buying nearly half a million cartons of untaxed cigarettes from a Kentucky dealer. “In these challenging economic times, we will continue to use the law to defend the public fisc from tax evaders,” New York City Corporation Counsel Michael A. Cardozo said in a statement.

Irony: Between 2007 and 2010, the ATF funneled 250 million cigarettes, or "a pack and a half for every man, woman and child in New York City," into the American black market. Further proof that the ATF is actually better at aiding in the illegal sale of guns, alcohol, and tobacco than it is at curtailing it. 

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  • ||

    The intent behind cigarette taxes has always been to discourage an unhealthy habit that increases health-care costs while generating revenue in a way that is politically palatable to most voters.

    Pissing on me, rain, etc.

    Fuck off, Slavers.

  • Your Teacher||

    Calling your enemies "slavers" all the time will get you this > < far.
    But if it makes you feel better...

  • rather||

    Unlike my dealer, who really is a slaver. There's not a cock I won't suck or train I won't pull for my rock!

  • SIV||

    With only that to trade how do you develop any habit at all?

  • rather||

    Let's just say I have a rather specific clientele. I'm white, blonde, and fat with an ass the size of an Oldsmobile. Need I say more?

  • ||

    You've said too much already. Really.

  • ||

    If this is a spoof, it's gonna be hard to tell.

  • rather||

    fuck off

  • ||

    What exactly can I do that will get me any further than > < , please, enlighten me. "Should I vote for the Democrat who wants to blast me in the ass, or the Republican who wants to blast me in the ass?"

    Seems like I've accomplished all I could ever hope to accomplish, without wasting a bunch of my time on fruitless endeavors that, impotently, aim to accomplish more.

  • ||

    There's a Governing magazine?

    Mayhaps I should subscribe...so I can see what my enemies are up to. Since I don't have TV anymore, that is.

  • Flyde Crog||

    Part of the Gerund magazine empire: Winning, Dining, Running, Hustling, Touring, Cheating, Crack Whoring, Cos Playing, Circle Jerking, etc.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    One wonders if everyone involved in producing that rag, is a managing editor...

  • ||

    That aggressive push has had an unintended consequence: It’s made the cigarette market very attractive to smugglers and bootleggers.

    Cause and effect: how the fuck does it work?

    And the obligatory hat tip to the Iron Laws: Foreseeable consequences are not unintended.

  • Brett L||

    The ATF is really the Mafia, right? They just institutionalized after WWII, I think.

  • fish||

    The intent behind cigarette taxes has always been to discourage an unhealthy habit that increases health-care costs while generating revenue in a way that is politically palatable to most voters.

    The intent behind cigarette taxes has always been to discourage an unhealthy habit that increases health-care costs while generate revenue in a way that is politically palatable to most voters.

    Of course my version is correct! You should here these pricks complain that revenue is down because fewer people are taking up or maintaining the habit.

    I'm with Wylie....Fuck Off Slavers!

  • Brett L||

    Its a regressive tax that all progressives approve of.

  • ||

    Such Progress, mon dieu!

  • Otto||

    Of course, Brett. Because progressives know better than poor people.

  • rather||

    Pissing on me, rain, etc.

    Fuck off, Slavers.

    Well, if you are a fish, I know you've already been peed on

  • fish||

    Don't you have a rock to "earn"?

  • rather||

    I love that I didn't know what a rock meant.

  • fish||

    I rather doubt that! Now get out there and shake that moneymaker.

  • rather||

    Sorry, but I don't drink either.

  • fish||

    You could at least try to respond.

  • rather ||

    Poor baby ;-)

  • GregorySmith3||

    I think all smokers should buy black market cigarettes, grown their own tobacco, buy cigarette rolling machines and make their own smokes, etc.

    In fact, I quit smoking to avoid giving Uncle Obama my money.

  • ||

    Yeah, you're a rebel!

  • GregorySmith3||

    That's right, a rebel with a cause. Freedom!

  • Almanian||

    Gregoooooooo!!!!!

    I quit smoking, too, but only because I got tired of waking up hacking my lungs out. I admire your philosphical purity.

  • GregorySmith3||

    Well Almanian, I don't really care about my health, just my looks. People don't get laid based on their cholesterol levels, you know.

  • ||

    "it's not how you feel, it's how you look, and YOU ... LOOK... MAHVELOUS"

  • Jim||

    Since FDR, I'm pretty sure growing your own tobacco counts as "interstate commerce".

  • GregorySmith3||

    Yeah, the state's are trying to f-ck with the makers of those do it yourself rolling machines. We'll see what happens.

    Either way, I'm waiting for the Al Caponne of Tobacco to rise up.

    Smokers of the world, puff!

  • ||

    Plural v. possessive, how does that work?

  • fish||

    sage|7.15.11 @ 2:15PM|#

    There's a Governing magazine?

    Mayhaps I should subscribe...so I can see what my enemies are up to. Since I don't have TV anymore, that is.

    What do you think Tony and Shrike use to jerk off. You should have seen last months centerfold...eight fat,sweaty middle aged men...around a table....legislating!

    So hot!

  • ||

    Winnah!

  • Mainer||

    and some of the back of the mag ads are hot, too. TSA pat down videos

  • rather||

    I think libertarians have a case for copyright violation. I saw the same picture in last months Libertarian Jerk Circle

  • fish||

    Yeah but instead of a table you the center of the circle. Hey whatever works for ya girl.

  • ||

    Can a female qualify as a pivot man?

  • ||

    The intent behind cigarette taxes has always been to discourage an unhealthy habit that increases health-care costs while generating revenue

    Not necessarily in that order.

  • ||

    The fact that the two goals are completely contradictory doesn't seem to have occurred to anyone, either.

    And, seriously, if I was the newly elected Sheriff or police chief or whatever, at this point the first thing I'd do would be to arrest the local ATF guys. Is there any criminal enterprise that they aren't supplying?

  • Invisible Finger||

    They're supplying the police, too.

    As you said, they supply every criminal enterprise.

  • Greer||

    I'm thinking that the the purpose of the tax increases is to pay for the increase in enforcement against black market cigs.

  • ||

    black market cigs

    You mean menthols, right?

  • Mainer||

    oh, you is bad.

  • Almanian||

    Can a brother borrow a square?

  • sarcasmic||

    I haven't heard that since I was in Denver.

  • sarcasmic||

    Not a lot of black people (other than Somalis) in Maine.

  • Almanian||

    Solid

    (we're bringing that term back - its time has come again)

  • ||

    Serious question: if all laws regulating the manufacture and sale of tobacco and liquor are state and/or local, how is the ATF even considered Constitutional?

    Serious question part 2: when the ATF sets up stings that run afoul of state laws yet have no basis in federal law, why are the agents not prosecuted? Methinks the good (haha) people of NYC should be clamoring for the heads of the "evil revenuers" who are infringing on their socialist parodied by I traducing bootleg smokes into their city in blatant violation of the state laws and city ordinance.

  • ||

    Parodied = paradise. Fucking apple autocorrect. Won't let the words socialist and paradise exist next to each other for fear their agenda might be exposed.

  • Tim||

    " Questions are a danger to you and a burden to others"

  • JSinAZ||

    Eugene Krabs, he knows the truth...

  • Jim's Constitutional Class||

    1. Commerce Clause
    2. Necessary and Proper
    3. General Welfare

    There will be a quiz on this material on Monday; thankfully, with proper reasoning you can answer every constitutional question with any and/or all of the above.

  • Flyde Crog||

    4. F*** you, we will because we can.

  • Patrick||

    The image in my head is now like the TARP episode of South Park - except the board/headless chicken is administered by the lawyers who decide which of the above will justify the latest grab.

  • ||

    See, this is what sucks about serious questions pertaining to constitutionality.

    Commerce clause is a bullshit reason because intrastate commerce is still a large % of the commerce of booze in the country, especially with the growth of local breweries and the large # of wineries in my area.

    Necessary and Proper is a laugher because it's neither necessary or proper for the Feds to regulate that which is not directly addressed in the Constitution.

    And General Welfare is the most misunderstood clause in the Constitution, especially when you leave the word "Promote" out of the phrase.

    I know you were just spoofing any statist fuck that would have honestly given the same answers with a straight face, but it still pisses me off none the less.

    Really, though, why has there not been a SC challenge to the ATF's infringement on state's rights yet, if for no other reason than to settle the issue once and for all.

  • Jim||

    It's only partially a spoof. I understand your frustration, but really, nearly every shitty Supreme Court decision involves one of those items at some point, so it's kind of a real answer.

    Nothing is unconstitutional if one can wrangle the necessary logic out of those phrases. I agree with you that they're abused to the point of meaninglessness...but that very fact is the answer to your question.

  • ||

    “In these challenging economic times, we will continue to use the law to defend the public fisc from tax evaders,” New York City Corporation Counsel Michael A. Cardozo said in a statement.

    Evil, evil tax evaders.

    Why would anyone attempt to shirk their duty to support those less fortunate than themselves? What sort of odious fiend would withhold his fair share from Society?

  • ||

    What sort of odious fiend would withhold his fair share from Society?

    Uneducated Troglodytes of The Lowest Order.

  • Joshua||

    Surely he meant to say fisT

  • ||

    Between 2007 and 2010, the ATF funneled 250 million cigarettes, or "a pack and a half for every man, woman and child in New York City," into the American black market. Further proof that the ATF is actually better at aiding in the illegal sale of guns, alcohol, and tobacco than it is at curtailing it.

    If only the BATFE were in reality a government agency dedicated to supplying underserved markets for explosives, alcohol and firearms.

  • Tim||

    Or the FDA began forcing women to get breast implants.

  • kinnath||

    I hate implants

  • Zeb||

    Yeah, fuck that shit. One of the most encouraging trends of the past several years has been the apparent decline in popularity of fake tits.

  • NeonCat||

    Do we have Tara Reid and Heidi Montag to thank for this?

  • Mainer||

    But whatever happened to pubic hair ?

  • FDA||

    Sorry, Mainer but it was a choking hazard and we had to outlaw it

  • wayne||

    +69

  • fish||

    But whatever happened to pubic hair ?

    Check rathers teeth.

  • rather||

    Fish, sorry the only thing you get to blow is bubbles :-(

  • ||

    The Brazilian butt enlargement surgery is coming on strong though (not to mention the awful universal tattoos).

    Women are always doing something disgusting to their bodies in an attempt to look beautiful. If they spent half the time learning to cook and clean properly as they spend enhancing themselves, maybe I would choose to associate with them more.

  • Flyde Crog||

    As a philosophical friend of mine once put it, "looking weird is preferable to looking ugly". Be kind to those born hideous who are just trying to cover up or distract.

  • rather||

    Tulpa, you are a prize -NOT

  • Facebook||

    “In these challenging economic times, we will continue to use the law to defend the public fisc from tax evaders,” New York City Corporation Counsel Michael A. Cardozo said in a statement.

    Charles Rangel and Tom Daschle like this.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Timmeh G. agrees too!

  • Almanian||

    Smoke 'em if you got 'em.

  • Mainer||

    You're old, too.

  • Almanian||

    YEAH, AND GET OFF MY LAWN, YA RUFFIANS!!

    *shakes fist - shits Depends - totters back up onto porch*

  • rather||

  • Flyde Crog||

    One of my favorite bits of political drama was when a coalition of convenience store owners went after NY indian tribes for undercutting their business by selling tax-free cigs on their reservations. The store owners saw the long-suffering and disadvantaged Native Americans, whose ancestors were raped and abused by the evil white man, as being more palatable targets than the State Government who caused the economic distortion in the first place. Priceless.

  • Rhywun||

    And the state government promptly decided to fuck over the Indians by magicking away a sovereign power they'd enjoyed for hundreds of years. Everyone's happy!

  • Chief Angry Bird||

    First, you took our land. Then, you took our horses. And now you take our tax-exempt status!

  • ||

  • ||

    ^who^which

  • Old Mexican||

    That ain't my car.

  • Flyde Crog||

    Obviously not. It's not riding on its leaf springs.

  • wayne||

    And there is no Virgin of Guadalupe hanging from the rear view mirror.

  • ||

    Was it parked on the lawn? Because if it was, that's pretty much case closed right there.

  • Redneck Mother||

    I got 3 cars on blocks parked on my lawn and I ain't no Mexkin, old ntor otherwise!

  • cynical||

    Further proof that the ATF is actually better at aiding in the illegal sale of guns, alcohol, and tobacco than it is at curtailing it.

    They're just laying the groundwork for actually converting it to a convenience store.

    But just to be safe, we angry native americans should probably dump all their cigarettes into the harbor.

  • Old Mexican||

    Today, more than half the retail price of a pack of cigarettes is composed of taxes and other fees, and last year, cigarettes generated more than $16.8 billion for state governments, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That aggressive push has had an unintended consequence: It’s made the cigarette market very attractive to smugglers and bootleggers.


    High tariffs/taxes creating smuggling rings and black markets???

    Say it ain't so, Shoeless! Say it ain't so!!!

  • ||

    A close friend of mine had her state income tax refund confiscated by the state for two years to reimburse them for the taxes she avoided by buying cigarettes online. She is no longer the unquestioning, loyal Democrat she once was.

  • Elitist Tax Cheat||

    New York City has billed more than 7,000 customers $7.1 million for buying untaxed cigarettes online from retailers with names like eSmokes.com.

    Cigarettes are for addicted low-lifes (we can agree on that much without getting into the nanny state argument, right?) but as a very temporary New York State resident, I get a thrill up my leg by ordering my cigars online from [redacted]. All this month they have $.99 shipping, and because they ship from [redacted], they don't add New York sales tax to the total. With the money I saved, I got a nice Dominican sampler of top-notch handmade smokes for less than $3 a stick, tax-free. The same smokes cost between $7 and $9 each at the local tobacconists. Only suckers buy tobacco (and pay the fees) inside New York. I pity the retailers here.

  • ||

    Only suckers buy tobacco (and live) inside New York.

    Ftfy.

  • Rhywun||

    That never gets old.

  • ||

    If New York's transients are gonna softball it in like that, I can't help but swing.

  • ||

    Only suckers buy tobacco (and pay the fees) inside New York.

    Are we considering the Indian reservations "inside New York" or not here?

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Consequences, unintended, see in reverse order.

    Or... WERE they unintended?

  • ||

    BA BA BAAAAAAADLDLDLDLDLDLDLDLDL

    (orchestra cue with some harpsicord deedle-ing trailing out.)

    *twirls mustaches, then departs to tie a buxom young woman to some railroad tracks*

  • Mr. FIFY||

    You have more than one mustache, while kids are starving in China???

  • wayne||

    Punitive taxation is simply a continuation of the War on Drugs. The government is the big cartel, so naturally they are cracking down on their competition.

  • ||

    She is no longer the unquestioning, loyal Democrat she once was.

    IN UR REALITIEZ, INTRUDIN

  • ||

    i have a friend who works for BATFE who drives his supervisor crazy with his no-tax-stamp cigarettes he buys in canada.

    i'm not sure that driving your supervisor crazy is a recommended path to promotion, but he enjoys it

  • ||

    surely there's some import tax the dirty lil smuggler is in violation of.

  • cynical||

    It seems odd that a cop would have a friend in organized crime, but to each his own.

  • PP-l||

    From the new issue of Governing magazine:


    This cries out for an Onion parody: Slavers, or maybe Human Farming Monthly.

  • 90'smokingtaxes slowed Europa ||

    Remember Europe's smoking discrimination?, it only forced to blackmarkets, "criminalizing" cigarrette distribution, helped on the neolibtiCAL "statists" to auto psyco not get sickness visible on their wrong on taxes, wrong on defense, as Europe told bhork: YOUR GOVPLAN IS A ROAD TO HELL!!...
    and to make moregov "power" "grow", inmates can't smoke (to summon more problems, chaothic nature), restaurant's smoking section where satanized (instead of moregov), slowing any economy, just because of the simple natural fact: smokers are part of a very entreprenuer industry, many economical activities, even medical pot is being used politicaly to end the war on drugs , wich was named grongly (simple cause of the "vietnamized problems"), instead of war on terror (expl: ALEXJHONES ILLUSTRATIONS are better explained than this blog, the "new" moregov anti-Bush (prove Bush is not from this $y$tem: if Bush, was "trialed" instead of acorn, UN$addam, MA Noriega, FIDEL, CHAVEZ, AYERS, ALINSKI, DORNE, CZARUMEN, UNIONWARG$, AUUUUTHORITIES, "ORDINARY" CRIME, ETC, as bhork (the lawAyer$) have tryed, HELPING AYATOLAND, CASTROGOV, ETC, then their frakin neolibtiCAL "world" would be propagandized as "the not wrong ideology, and they have the drivebymediarrea govmedicine, decade$ experienced, mostly from tedpalpatinekennedy's anamontes creeppy crappy spooky frakin $y$tem fully operational "period" already (but as ususal, orbiting the same fate as history showed cycles of all of their moregov emperial govba$e$hip(t)$, moregovre$urrection$hip(t)$, debt$tar$ (including neolibtical (blame Bush) planned global finantialbubble bombings (bhork presentation, "the worst depression teleprompter period") and "after bhork FORCED BAILOUT$&SPENDING; BOMBINGS to the future...
    and they "just think as tedpalpatine they just were borned to do so, to replace even God"...
    and bhork insists on publicly relate and help the brothermuslimhood's faces, or, ignore blackpanties public violent torpedos of acts of war against the Americans and the ally(charlie, why don't you use those resources to help promoting the explanations of the old, old global system, from the real empire u$$r'u$ neoliBLAnd?)...
    ah!, please, do not close this library, they aren't responsible for other SoFla sanctuary library staffs
    pd: townhall, I've being blocked to post on townhall for 6mo+, and seems "normal now" to be, where are "the other Republicans helped by Teaparties?
    ah!, governor, mayors, cities, etc, I still recieve the same treatment from police, "my" (by local laws)castrocoyote stepmother ruler of my bloodline family, having me homeless while my place is used for (lourdesmartines, singlename) castrocoyote logistics, still slaved for "the only subjobs police barelly offers me for $1.5/hr, violence threats if I dare to even answer, ETC...
    so, I'll keep frakin bloggin MY LISTS WITH I M B E C I L E santuary (periods) INSURGENCY FOR FUTURE WATERBOARDING AND O T H E R METHODS FOR INTERROGATION, SPECIALLY against AUUTHORITIES (MOREGOV PAYED WARG$ AND MORE THAN ORK$)...
    STAY TUNNED MY FRIENDS
    JUMPING OUT...

  • Bradley ||

    Paging Herc. Someone's on your turf.

  • NL_||

    Yet again, this post's lack of alt-text confuses and enrages me.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    The intent behind cigarette taxes has always been to discourage an unhealthy habit that increases health-care costs while generating revenue in a way that is politically palatable to most voters.

    Now that tastes a little truthier.

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