Major Dad 1984

Cursed By A Classical Education

Let's just say that I intend to use this blog to blow off some steam that I might be feeling with the International/National media, my work situation, or maybe even to tee off on the family in a humorous way of course!

3/13/2005

Strange Taxes - On Illegal Substances?

Just wait until you see what I've got for you this morning...if this doesn't make you say "Hmmmm?" I just don't know what will.

Apparently the problem with taxation is far worse than you'd think; follow this link to an article posted at CNN.com. I'll be here when you get back. Strangest Taxes...

Here's an excerpt on my "favorite" tax...with my commentary interspersed in a bold font.

Illegal drug tax: On Jan. 1, Tennessee became the latest of 23 states to institute a tax for possession of illegal drugs. Usually, you have to be in possession of a minimum quantity, say over 42.5 grams of marijuana in North Carolina, to be subject to the tax.

Okay, what am I missing here? Based just on the title of the tax, it would appear that we've got some double jeopardy going on here. Not only will you get in trouble for being in possession of illegal substances, but you're also subject to a tax for not registering your possession of an illegal substance. What the hell?

Just let me try and get this straight for a minute. Let's say I'm an addict of some sort...for the ease of discussion, we'll pretend it's marijuana. I've purchased two ounces of the substance. Now according to the laws of 23 states, my first responsibility as a citizen is to dutifully report to a government office to report my purchase and pay tax on two ounces of dope?

If I'm willing to break one law, buy possessing and using drugs, what makes anyone think that I'll obey another? Isn't this something of a voluntary donation?

In Tennessee, when you acquire an illegal drug (even "moonshine"), you have 48 hours to report to the Department of Revenue and pay your tax, in exchange for which you'll receive stamps to affix to your illegal substance. The stamps serve as evidence you paid the tax on the illegal product.

Another, "hmmmmmm?" here. I have 48 hours to report my ill-gotten acquisition. How in the Sam Hill is any state entity going to know when I purchased my dope? Last time I checked, people out on street corners in crack neighborhoods aren't accepting MasterCard, Visa OR the American Express card. These same dealers aren't providing their customers with a time stamped, printed receipt either. I guess we're going with the "honor system" here. I suppose the times have changed so much while I've had my head in the conservative sand that now there is honor amongst criminals and lawbreakers.

Don't worry that you might get in trouble for admitting you have enough drugs to fuel a rave party for years. You need not provide identification to get the stamps and it's illegal for revenue employees to rat you out.

Yet another, "Hmmmmm?" Now you're telling me that the "revenuers" don't have to share information with "John Law," but in the event you make a bust...they're only happy enough to inform the "revenuers" that no "tax stamp" was found on the little vial of crack, baggie of weed, or aluminum foil container of heroin?

Didn't we all make faces when it came to light that federal law enforcement offices weren't sharing information when it came to terrorist activity? I think we've thrown stones at the FBI, CIA, and local agencies for this. Why would it be okay for a state's revenue agency not to cooperate with the state and local law enforcement officials?

Still, next door in North Carolina, which has had a similar law for 15 years, only 79 folks have voluntarily come forward since 1990, according to the Department of Revenue. Most were thought to be stamp collectors, or perhaps just high. Another 72,000 were taxed after they were already busted.

Wow! North Carolina's voluntary taxation program was "way" successful, huh? A little more than 5 people a year came forward to admit to being a lawbreaker, pay their taxes, and move right along. How many people do you suppose they have working this issue within their revenue system? Even if it is just one, I'd have to guess that the salary that North Carolina's paid for this taxation feature...is way too much!

The fact that 79 people voluntarily paid their tax and 72,000 were taxed (notice, I didn't say paid taxes...because I'd bet that unless drug kingpins got nabbed, like most petty criminals the offenders didn't have two nickels to rub together) pretty much demonstrates that a voluntary system just isn't cutting the mustard.

North Carolina has collected $78.3 million thus far, almost all from those arrested and found without stamps.

Doesn't this windfall sound more like fines than taxes? People had to be caught before the money was recouped. Even so, that only probably happened when the authorities picked up the big players in the illegal substance game. 72,000 people paying $78.3 million dollars averages out to over $1000 per offense, doesn't it?

Okay, now how do we make a dent in the problem of illegal drugs?

First, we must make the punishment fit the crime. If we say that drug use is unacceptable in American society, then it must be treated accordingly. Illegal drug use is a drain on the economy in terms of disability payments, medical and mental health care. Until people are more afraid of going to jail than they are of not satisfying their addiction, the situation's not going to get much better.

Secondly, if there are laws on the books that require a certain amount of payment of fines and penalties, then they need to be paid. To me, we have an incredible amount of labor sitting idle in our prisons today. What would the harm be to make the inmates work not only to pay off their restitution, but also their room, board, and other expenses of their incarceration? It seems to work in certain prisons around the country...why don't taxpayers require this to be the case for all public prisons?

President Bush seems to think that there are jobs that American workers simply choose not to do. His solution to the problem is to allow foreign workers into the country to perform this labor. Why not tap into the prison population?

As far as I'm concerned, if you're sent to prison you deserve to lose personal freedoms afforded to those of us that play by the rules.

Why can't we encourage inmates to perform labor to sustain them while locked up? Prisons should run farms to grow food, sell products made in their factories and workshops, and the Lord only knows that weeds and trash along the highways and streets still piles up. It's high time that we put the punishment back into the penal system, rather than simply putting people into cages.

Finally, we have to come to grips with the fact that drug use and distribution are NOT victimless crimes. We know that organized crime has chosen this as one of their high return on investment crimes...and terrorist organizations have jumped on board with this as well. If we start reducing the demand for their product because people are afraid of the type of incarceration they'll endure, then maybe we can start stemming the tide.

For states to turn a blind eye to lawbreakers only undermines the effort. Rather than trying to raise revenues from the activity, perhaps they should look at cutting the budgets wasting funds on nonsensical efforts like I've just discussed in the past thousand words.

See you on the high ground...

MajorDad1984



And here is the rest of it.

Read the rest of the longer story!

1 Comments:

At 1:02 PM, Blogger DagneyT said...

In a nutshell, how can you legally tax something that is illegal? Sounds like the legislators have been toking and legislating at the same time! And I thought the "toilet paper tax" proposed in Florida was ridiculous!

 

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