Friday, April 8, 2011

Sin City wants new Sin Tax

sin_city_vegas_sign_belt_buckle<Ed Note- I realize this isn’t just Las Vegas, but the state of Nevada….but it doesn’t fit my title as well.>

So let me get this straight, the tax on a SINGLE $10 Cigar will be more than 50%?  Really?  And that is supposed to improve health?  This isn’t like a pack of Cigarettes (which would be raised to $1.70 tax), this is one smoke.  Uuuugh.

Meanwhile, other proposed tax raises-the tax on hard liquor would increase from $3.60 to $4.50 per gallon. The tax on wine would jump from 70 cents to $1 per gallon; the beer tax would rise from 16 to 25 cents a gallon and cordials would be raised from $1.30 to $1.75 per gallon.

We’ve harped on Sin Taxes before here at S&B (HERE HERE HERE & HERE), but I think constant reader Jeremy said it best in his comment found HERE (and yes, I do read all comments)-

If they genuinely cared about health issues and were an absolute authority (which essentially they are) then they would just say "Smoking is illegal. End of story." Right?
Isn't that what they did with cocaine and opiates, or, I don't know...cock-fighting?
On the other hand, if you are just a money-grubbing politician, you would allow the product and figure out a way to make money from it.
I mean, think about their other moral stances. They aren't taxing abortions to discourage them. They don't tax smoking pot. They don't tax (per se) strip clubs. There's no internet porn tax.
It's not really a "sin" tax so much as a "really convenient way to generate revenue from people who can't help themselves" tax.
Why do they even need to tax cigarettes? They got billions and billions and billions of dollars from the tobacco companies under a settlement negotiated during Clinton and a Republican Congress. Part of the deal was they agreed to prevent the consumers who actually used the products and got cancer from ever suing. They traded our rights for money, unapologetically. They didn't create a fund to give to people with lung cancer, as would have happened in a class action suit.
Instead, they (the states) simply took the money for themselves to spend on whatever they wanted. Ostensibly in the name of increased healthcare burdens.
Notice that they aren't even saying they need the money to offset the costs of smoking. They just want the money because other states are getting more. Missouri (by their definition) is failing because they aren't gouging their citizens as much as they could.
I don't know, maybe "transparency" in government just means they stop offering pretexts before they take our money. I suppose, all things considered, that is a step up.


Lawmakers debate tax hike on cigarettes, alcohol to raise revenue

CARSON CITY – The tax on a $10 cigar would rise from $3 to $5.50 under a bill debated in the Nevada Legislature on Tuesday.

The tax on a bottle of wine would inch up 6 cents, according to Assemblywoman Peggy Pierce, D-Las Vegas, who has introduced a package of bills to raise taxes.

Pierce told the Assembly Taxation Committee that Nevada is in its worst economic situation in 70 years and there are major cuts in education and other social services that she couldn't support.

“The state will be devastated if we do not raise revenue,” Pierce said.

She got support from a variety of health groups, including the American Lung Association, the American Heart Society, March of Dimes, Nevada Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society.

But representatives from convenience stores, cigar businesses, and the cigarette and liquor industry argued such a tax hike would result in lower collections of revenue and hurt the economy.

Michael Frey testified he operates six stores that sell cigars in Las Vegas. If this tax is passed, he testified he would have to close four of the stores and lay off 35 of his 50 employees.

Peter Krueger, representing convenience stores and cigar businesses, argued that when taxes are raised, the tax revenue actually declines. He said such a tax hike would result in an "Internet black market" of cigarettes and liquor.

He acknowledged Nevada might need increased revenue and he said he would back a tax on services as long as it is not filled with exemptions.

Amy Bealieu of the American Lung Association said the proposed 80 cent increase on a pack of cigarettes would bring in an additional $63.4 million a year in taxes, while the proposed hike on other tobacco products would produce an additional $5.8 million.

Committee Chairwoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, said Assembly Bill 333 would generate $235 million over the next two fiscal years.

Tom McCoy of the American Cancer Society said the last time cigarette taxes were raised was in 2003. An increase would mean a reduction in smoking, he said.

Other health representatives argued it would cut down on teen smoking and cut medical costs in Nevada.

Assemblyman John Ellison, R-Elko, suggested an increase in liquor taxes would have a big effect on the casino industry, where resorts sometimes give free drinks.

But Pierce noted that no casino representatives appeared at the Legislature to testify.

AB333 would raise the tax on a pack of cigarettes to $1.70 and the tax on hard liquor would increase from $3.60 to $4.50 per gallon. The tax on wine would jump from 70 cents to $1 per gallon; the beer tax would rise from 16 to 25 cents a gallon and cordials would be raised from $1.30 to $1.75 per gallon.

The committee didn't take action on the bill.

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