Thursday, January 26, 2006

If you can't beat them - tax them

Oh my. What do you think of this:

Betting that black-market cash can aid efforts to fight crime, a maverick Republican lawmaker is pushing a plan to fund police by taxing drug dealers.

The illegal drug excise tax, patterned after measures adopted in nearly half the country, would set up a state system to distribute tax stamps for illegal drugs and alcohol.

In addition to any criminal fines, dealers busted with drugs or moonshine not bearing the stamps would be assessed the specific tax rates - for instance $200 for each gram of cheap street drugs. The cocaine tax would be $50 a gram.

"It's just our little way of saying 'Thank you' for bringing some money into the state, even though you do it the wrong way," said the measure's sponsor, Rep. Tom Campbell, R-Roy.

Um. Isn't that, like, the state regulating drugs that are considered completely illegal by the federal government? Is taxing these drugs a form of legitimizing their existence? Will the feds take offense to this at all?
Basically, what has to happen is that drug dealers can apparently, go buy the stamps anonymously and then they have to affix the stamps to their product. If the product does not have the stamps on them if and when they are caught, then the financial penalty is far greater than just, say, getting caught with drugs? Isn't this like 6-1/2-dozen the other?
I'm not sure that I agree with Campbell's philosophy on taxation. We don't like what you are doing, in fact if we catch you, we'll throw you in jail. But we'd like to take your money and stick it in our coffers. Does anyone else see that as a problem? Or is it just me?
Roguepundit doesn't see the financial benefit for the state:
Of note though is that few of these laws have ever generated significant revenues (for instance, over $1 million per year), much less maintained that revenue generation after successful legal challenges. And, most of the limited success has been labor-intensive and thus costly. So, the odds of building a self-funding bureaucracy based upon money generated by a drug stamp tax are extremely small.
Campbell seems to be counting on the extra revenue that this was supposed to bring, but the state actually might lose money on this.

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