Saturday, February 25, 2006

Tennessee's new crack tax brings in the money

Crime: Only crackheads and drug dealers are stupid enough to fall for this though it is sorta innovative. But I do advocate having the states instead of busting pot heads and throwing them into jail, fine and tax them. Pot heads are an untapped revenue source. The harder drugs still should be given jail time.

Drug dealers not only paid their debts to society last year with prison sentences, they often paid with tax money as well. The state's unauthorized substances tax, dubbed the "crack tax," raked in $1,714,565 since becoming effective on Jan 1., 2005, according to a statement released yesterday by the Tennessee Department of Revenue. More than $32 million in uncollected taxes has been assessed. "We're pleased with last year's results," said Emily Richard, a spokeswoman for the state's Department of Revenue. "It definitely was a success." The money collected has already covered the one-time startup cost of the program, $376,400, and the first year of recurring cost, $802,568. But not everyone supports the new law. Nashville defense lawyer Glenn Funk said the tax is unfair because the taxes are often assessed before the suspect is convicted of a crime. "It is a ridiculous law," Funk said. "The law on the books now is allowing revenue agents to seize personal property of citizens based solely on an accusation by a police officer." The unauthorized substances tax is levied on illegal drugs including marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine. It also is assessed on illicit alcoholic beverages, such as "moonshine." Under the law, drug dealers are to pay taxes to the Department of Revenue within 48 hours of acquiring an unauthorized substance and obtain a state tax stamp. The amount of money taxed varies based on the type and amount of the drug. Payment of the tax is to be kept confidential and the information is not to be shared with law enforcement. If police catch a suspected drug dealer without the stamps, the tax is assessed, along with a fine for failure to pay the tax upfront. If the person is unable to pay the tax, personal property can be seized. •

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