Sunday, May 24, 2009

Tax the Smokers and the Drinkers

The following was taken from Virginia Government Ideas on how to raise more money and guess what:
Tax the smokers and drinkers

In the past year the Virginia General Assembly has been stalemate in trying to figure out how to raise funds to build roads, bridges, etc. It's like playing chess with yourself and wondering why the game is a draw every time. Can I offer a few suggestions?

1.) Raise the excise tax on cigarettes. Currently, Virginia ranks 47th with ONLY a .30 cents tax per pack of smokes. Compare that to New Jersey that pays $2.58 excise tax per pack - the highest in the country. Why not raise our tax .20 - .30 cents? Cha-Ching!!!

2.) The Virginia Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (Your ABC store) had annual gross sales of $607.4 million for the fiscal year of 2007. Again, incorporate a tax that will fund building the necessary roads, bridges, and schools the Commonwealth needs. Cha-Ching!!!

We do not want to raise property taxes, we don't want more legislation like the abusive driver penalities that cost a few people their jobs and confidence in our state government.

Is that too easy or am I wasting my time and yours?

He plans to close a multibillion-dollar budget deficit partly by sharply raising taxes on small cigars like White Owl and Swisher Sweets and even more for malt liquors like Olde English “800” and Colt 45. The governor’s proposal would lift the malt liquor tax to $2.54 a gallon from 11 cents a gallon.

For a 40-ounce malt liquor, that would mean a tax of 79 cents per bottle, up from less than a penny, if the proposal is approved by the State Legislature. “It’s messed up, it’s wrong!” said Darryl, who looked as though he was in his 50s and was bundled up against the cold. “You got mostly poor people like me buying malt liquor.”

Asked why he bought malt liquor rather than beer, Darryl, who declined to give his last name, looked quizzically at a reporter and replied, “You get twice as much, and it’s got a bigger kick to it.”

A 40-ounce malt liquor, almost a third of a gallon, will cost up to $2.50, compared with $3.50 or more for an equal amount of beer. While beer contains about 5 percent alcohol by volume, malt liquor can have as much as 9 percent.

Roman Isre, 28, a barber at Erik’s Barber Shop on 10th Avenue, said he bought malt liquor once or twice a week. “That’s bad!” Mr. Isre said when told about Mr. Spitzer’s proposals.

Would he buy less malt liquor? Mr. Isre smiled. “Nah. You got to do what you got to do,” he said. “It’s like gas. You drive the same mileage for $2 a gallon or $3.50 a gallon.”

Just how much prices will rise is a little unclear, but consumers will notice.

The governor expects to raise as much as $5 million a year in revenue from the extra cigarillo tax and $18 million from the malt liquor tax.

Malt liquor is a form of beer that has been artificially boosted with alcohol and is not marketed as beer. Jeffrey Gordon, a spokesman for the State Division of the Budget, said malt liquor would be taxed as if it were liquor instead of beer to “better reflect alcohol content.”

Little cigars, or cigarillos, are about the size of cigarettes but are wrapped in whole-leaf tobacco instead of cigarette paper. But the two products will now be taxed similarly, Mr. Gordon said.

Cigarillos are now taxed as tobacco products, at 37 percent of the wholesale price, but they do not carry the “tax stamp” of cigarettes. In New York City, cigarettes carry a state tax of $1.50 and city tax of $1.50 per pack. Under the governor’s proposal, cigarillos would carry a tax stamp, too.

Even before the governor proposed his increases, there was a move, at least in the bodegas and delicatessens of Hell’s Kitchen, to stop selling malt liquor.

A and A Market and Deli, at 45th Street and 10th Avenue, used to sell as many as 40 cases of malt liquor a week, but it became too bothersome to stock. “We have arguments here, very loud arguments,” said Mustafa Saleh, 27, the deli’s manager. “They don’t want to pay.”

When customers did pay, it was annoying, he said. “They paid in change,” he said, “$2.50 in nickels, dimes and pennies; that’s the kind of money they have.”

Other deli workers are happy not to carry malt liquor.

“It’s bad for the people,” said Niff Alaradem 29, a clerk at Clinton Gourmet Market, at 46th Street and 10th Avenue. “You see so many alcoholic people, it’s all they drink, Colt 45, Olde English, everything. They take one of these big bottles and it’s dinner.”

It's so easy to say tax other folks for stuff that needs doing. Cigarette taxes are extremely regressive and smoking rates are much higher among the poor since it's a relatively inexpensive entertainment (and if you are going to live your elder years in poverty, why bother to extend your life). All citizens should pay to support the government and those who want to pass it along to those less able to pay should rethink.

I'm quite sure you understand the above article these politicians don't care about the smoker and the drinkers, they have no power, they have no influence, they are nothing. That is nothing but a source of money for the state to give away to others. Wake up and organize, talk to others of like mind, share your thoughts and lets get the ball rolling. This can be a great moment, a great time to take back American and restore sanity to government.

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