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More on the Drug Tax

I’ve discussed Tennessee’s asinine illegal drug tax many times before. It’s only use seems to be taking people’s property without due process of law and there are reports that the tax stamps aren’t actually being sold. Tennessee Rep Stacey Campfield alerts us that:

Tennessee Center for Policy Research has a new study out today which claims that the “Drug Tax” is fiscally wasteful and legally flawed.

It’s also, of course, an infringement on constitutional rights. Here’s a link to the release, which states:

A report released today by the Tennessee Center for Policy Research (TCPR) finds that from January 1-June 21, 2005, Tennessee’s Unauthorized Substances Tax (UST) cost taxpayers nearly $1.5 million more than it generated in revenue.

The UST also has troubling Constitutional implications for Tennesseans, infringing upon two separate Fifth Amendment protections.

The tax, which was created to generate revenue for the state general fund and state and local law enforcement agencies, requires that individuals in possession of illegal drugs or alcohol pay a tax by purchasing a drug stamp or face severe fines if arrested. Purchasing a drug stamp does not provide immunity from criminal drug possession or trafficking charges.

If an individual arrested on drug charges cannot pay the fines resulting from failure to pay the UST immediately, the state can seize his or her property without the burden of establishing guilt in a court of law.

This year, the Department of Revenue has assessed $14.9 million in tax penalties for drugs on which taxes were not paid. However, the state has collected only $480,007 of that amount through property seized and fines levied as a result of drug busts. Since three quarters of the fines collected as a result of the UST are returned to the local law enforcement agencies that make the drug arrest, the tax has generated only $120,002 in new revenue for the state.

The cost of implementing the tax and operating the bureaucracy necessary to administer the tax over the same period reached $1.58 million.

Here’s the full report.

3 Responses to “More on the Drug Tax”

  1. hellbent Says:

    11 full-time employees to administer the drug tax? Since you tell us they won’t actually sell stamps, I guess the 11 are all auctioneers.

  2. SayUncle Says:

    Actually, I said there are reports they won’t sell them. I think I might try to buy some for a laugh just to see.

    The issue seems to be that they only sell them in Nashville at the Dept. of Revenue. I haven’t actually tried doing it yet.

    And you’re not telling me you’d be surprised by government waste, are you?

  3. hellbent Says:

    Surprised by government waste? I can’t possibly come off as that clueless.