Thursday, February 19, 2004
Where There’s Smoke, There’s A New Tax

Despite rhetoric to the contrary, Massachusetts’ No New Tax Governor continues to pile new taxes on the state’s taxpayers.

The latest is a use tax on cigarettes purchased from out-of-state internet smoke shops.

Willard Mitt’s Department of Revenue recently asked AG Tom Reilly to file a lawsuit against discount cigarette retailers, demanding that they provide the Fraud Governor with the names and addresses of their Massachusetts customers.

Why? So Romney can add to his voter ID database? Maybe. But more immediately so that the Fraud Governor can recoup lost excise taxes.

According to a DOR spokespuppet, “under federal law, the state is permitted to tax the sale of cigarettes.” (source: MetroWest Daily News, 2/18/2004)

Permitted. Not required.

Yet while Willard Mitt said he would not raise taxes, in the last six months of 2003, DOR took in $162,000 in new cigarette use tax money. That means they’ve smoked 1,200 addicts almost $136 each in new tax revenue, monies that were never collected before Team Reform took office.

So is the new cigarette tax a “good tax” because it offsets ancillary health costs?

Who cares? This is less about tax policy than fraud policy. The Fraud Governor said he would not impose new taxes.

And this is just the first step. According to DOR, “eventually the state will begin scrutinizing all shipments into Massachusetts to see if residents are buying items on which they should be paying a use tax.” (source: Boston Globe, 2/15/2004)

All shipments. And not just cigarettes. All shipments.

But don’t worry. Willard Mitt won’t abuse the power of government and use this enhanced data collection to try to intrude into your personal life.

We can trust him; he’s a reformer.


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