Saturday, September 29, 2007

TN: Smokers Targeted

On July 1, Tennessee's cigarette tax increased from 20 cents to 62 cents per pack. All eight states that border Tennessee now have lower cigarette taxes. Tennesseans have been traveling to neighboring states and stocking up and the Tennessee Department of Revenue is now taking aim. Agents had been staking-out out-of-state stores to “get a feel where problem areas are." Now, they're getting serious... (Knoxville News Sentinel)
The idea is for the monitoring agent to spot a person buying cigarettes in volume at an out-of-state market, then departing in a vehicle with Tennessee license tags. Starting today, monitoring agents spotting such a suspect will call an arresting agent who will stop the car when it enters Tennessee, he said.

The agents will work “in roving teams at random times,” he said.

“This shows once again that Reagan Farr and the Department of Revenue are more interested in turning Tennessee into a police state than doing their job of collecting taxes,” said Drew Johnson, president of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research.

Farr said the program is partly an “education initiative” to make people aware of tobacco tax provisions in state law and a response to complaints from Tennessee tobacco retailers about “streams of Tennessee license plates crossing the border” from out-of-state retailers.

“I don’t think (Johnson) or anyone else wants to see the commissioner of revenue deciding which laws passed by the Tennessee Legislature to enforce and which not to enforce,” Farr said. “If that were the case, they (legislators) could just tell the commissioner ‘get me $11 billion’ wherever you think best.”
WARNING: If you are a Tennessee resident and transport more than two cartons of smokes into the state without paying Tennessee taxes, you are breaking the law. You could be fined, imprisoned, and even have your car seized.

No comments: