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Old 01-17-2005, 09:57 PM   #1
Heretic
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Default Most absurd law ever

http://tennessean.com/government/arc...nt_ID=63433882

Come the new year, the tax man is coming after drug dealers in Tennessee.

Drug peddlers will be required to pay state excise taxes on illegal substances from marijuana to moonshine, from cocaine to the often illegally obtained prescription painkiller OxyContin under a new law that goes into effect Saturday.

A 10-person tax agency has been created at a one-time cost of $1.2 million to assess the taxes and collect them. The annual cost to enforce the drug tax will be $800,000, said Elizabeth Fitzgerald, spokeswoman for the state Revenue Department.

The tax, however, is expected to more than cover the costs. One estimate by the law's sponsor, Sen. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, projects collecting $3.6 million in one year.

Bob Acuff, neighborhood watch director for Historic Edgefield in east Nashville, said he's anxious to see what impact the tax has on the drug trade in Nashville.

''I'm happy to hear they're at least trying something,'' said Acuff, 56, a small-business owner.

Eric Jans, 32, a Nashville insurance agent and neighborhood activist, said he's unsure whether the tax will reduce drug trafficking.

''If it's bringing in extra money and if they can collect it off the backs of the drug dealers, that's a good thing. But I'm not sure it will reduce crime. Criminals don't think about the long-term effects of what they're doing,'' said Jans, vice president of two east Nashville groups, the Lockeland Springs Neighborhood Association and Rediscover East!, which work closely with police on crime and safety issues.

McNally said he proposed the law to take money out of the drug trade and recover some of the costs of prosecuting and jailing drug offenders.

''People felt good that we could do something other than have to spend taxpayer money on housing drug dealers.''

Proponents for the legalization of marijuana call the Tennessee law and similar ones in other states absurd.

''It's patently ridiculous. Legal nitwittery,'' said Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, a Washington nonprofit that calls itself the largest, oldest group devoted to legalizing marijuana for responsible adult use.

''On the one hand, it says you can't own a substance. And on the other hand, it creates a taxing scheme. The law on its face makes no sense.''

St. Pierre suggests that marijuana users here challenge the law to either get it wiped off the books or affirm the legal taxation of marijuana, similar to how alcohol and tobacco are taxed.

Tennessee joins at least 22 other states in taxing illegal drugs. Its law was modeled after North Carolina's, which has collected $83 million in the 14 years it has been on the books, said Laura Lansford, assistant director of that state's Unauthorized Substances Tax Division. Last fiscal year, the drug tax brought in $8.5 million, and $4.9 million since July 1, she said.

Of the 72,000 taxpayers North Carolina has assessed, only 79 people voluntarily bought stamps, she said.

The new tax would be collected in two ways:

Drug dealers can go to any of the state revenue offices within 48 hours of coming into possession of unauthorized substances. They pay the tax and get a ''stamp'' to put on the drugs showing they have paid up. They would not be required to give their name, address, Social Security number or other identifying information. State tax collectors would be constrained by taxpayer privacy laws from reporting them to police. Still, state officials say voluntary payment is unlikely to happen often.

The most probable way the tax will be collected is when police make drug busts. Law enforcement agencies are required to call tax officials within 48 hours detailing the drugs found.

Tax collectors then assess the tax on the drug suspects, as well as additional fines for not paying the tax in the first place. If the suspects cannot make immediate payment, the state seizes and sells any assets, such as cars, homes and personal belongings, to pay off the liability.

Paying the tax does not immunize a drug dealer from criminal prosecution, nor does nonpayment result in harsher jail sentences or fines, other than a tax penalty. Typical tax penalties are 5% of the unpaid tax liability.

''We consider this a revenue source for law enforcement's fight against narcotics and other illegal substances,'' said Al Laney, Tennessee's director of tax enforcement.

Three-fourths of the tax money collected will go to the law enforcement agency that initiated the arrest, and one-fourth will go to the state's general fund.

In the past 15 years, several courts have struck down drug taxes, NORML's St. Pierre said. Often, legislatures rewrite the law to satisfy the courts and put them back on the books, he said.

In North Carolina, the law was challenged by citizens who said the tax was a penalty rather than an excise tax, taking their argument to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Lansford said. North Carolina legislators ultimately adjusted the rates to get the law untangled from the court system.

Paul Kuhn, a member of the Tennessee Alliance for Medical Marijuana, said a marijuana tax will burden citizens least likely to afford it, primarily minorities and low-income people.
I wonder if the stickers they give you say Dunce on them.
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Old 01-17-2005, 11:14 PM   #2
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If they're going to tax it then I demand they legalize it!
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Old 01-17-2005, 11:28 PM   #3
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Its actually a pretty clever way of increasing the penalties for drug offenses without bumping into sentencing guidelines already on the books. With laws like these they dont have to prove your assets were the results of drug sales, a conviction is enough to create the debt.

People complained about overly aggressive and often punative siezure of assets for a drug conviction and many cases were over turned or modified on appeal. This is just a way to get around those problems.
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Old 01-17-2005, 11:33 PM   #4
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The real joke is that people are actually paying the tax.
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Old 01-17-2005, 11:39 PM   #5
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Actually paying the tax makes sense if it insulates your remaining assets against siezure. Just jack the cost up 5% and pass it on to the consumer. Drug dealers are just businessmen without a dental plan.
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Old 01-18-2005, 12:01 AM   #6
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I can't believe I'm talking to someone who approves of this. Why does the drug dealer care if he is breaking tax law if he is already breaking it by possessing and selling an illegal substance? The taking of assets argument is bull. Just tack that on to the drug charge, who cares if people bitch. You mean to tell me we have people walking into these places to pay taxes on their drug and the cops aren't waiting outside for them? With all the time/money we put into the drug war? That is the other joke.
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Old 01-18-2005, 12:12 AM   #7
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Dont blame me if you cant see past your own limited experience. Do some research on how many forfeitures were over turned on appeal and how many laws have been gutted due to their severity before complaining about other ways to penalize drug dealers.

And in case it wasnt clear, the people who wrote the law really dont think dealers are going to come in and get the tax stamp. As a matter of fact, they dont care one way or the other. Under these laws, they are going to get theirs one way or the other. If you sell One Million in drugs and get busted, they are going to get their 50k. Either up front or by selling your shit at auction.
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Old 01-18-2005, 12:32 AM   #8
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Well isn't this tax law essentially the same thing as the old laws that were gutted? Won't these be overturned as well?

Haven't heard of many cases being overturned because of severity of punishment. If anything, we need harsher sentences for lawbreakers in this country...starting with DUI.
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Old 01-18-2005, 04:19 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Heretic
Well isn't this tax law essentially the same thing as the old laws that were gutted? Won't these be overturned as well?
Why would they be overturned? If they don't conflict with any other laws on the books, what's the big deal? Sounds like another way to stick it to drug dealers, and that is a good thing, no?
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Old 01-18-2005, 04:20 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Heretic
Well isn't this tax law essentially the same thing as the old laws that were gutted? Won't these be overturned as well?
Actually the law is to help prevent rulings from being overturned.
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Old 01-18-2005, 04:24 AM   #11
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At the same time, if some laws are overturned, you have more you can charge them with. Throw enough at them, something'll stick
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Old 01-18-2005, 04:39 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Heretic
You mean to tell me we have people walking into these places to pay taxes on their drug and the cops aren't waiting outside for them? With all the time/money we put into the drug war? That is the other joke.
Unfortunately Heretic we can't just go bust somebody for going in and paying taxes on illegal drugs. We have to have probable cause that they have to have the drugs on them. Reliable source or visually observe them possessing it ourselves. Our hands are tied alot of the time by laws. Hell anymore bud, there are alot of things police officers can't do because of how much the law ties us up. It is sad.
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Old 01-18-2005, 04:51 AM   #13
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It is sad. Having to let the serial killer go because you obtained the murder weapon illegaly (as in no warrant), now that's absurd. OMG, you violated his rights!! Well, what about the rights of his victims? Seems nobody's concerned about them.
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Old 01-18-2005, 05:05 AM   #14
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Exactly Wild, the laws are set up to protectthe criminal. Goes back to my point of in my state, litering is a Class A Misdemeanor, while first time driving while intoxicated (which DWI you are putting peoples lives at risk on the road) is a Class B Misdemeanor. Of course some tree hugger lobbiyist got some tree hugging politician to get that ball rolling. It is sad.

Hell I arrested someone the other night who was on his 5th DWI and hes only spent a total of 10 days in jail And was gloating over that fact. Sadly he probabyl wont spend much time on this one.
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Old 01-18-2005, 05:06 AM   #15
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taxing a illegal substance in effect legalizes it.

and thats arguable in court.

so one of two things will happen.

either the law will be overturned. or they will finnalize the legality of a illegal drug. and you could take the state to court on criminal charges of illegal income if they don't legalize.

what i do find humourous is the fact that people will actualy pay it. and the fact they expected people to pay it. the entire siutation is bloody hilarious.

the only people that will make any money from this are lawyers as usual. damn i wish i was less honest.
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Old 01-18-2005, 06:52 AM   #16
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litering is a Class A Misdemeanor
I always thought the concept of littering kind of humerous. You've seen the signs of "put litter in it's place". Well, the ground *IS* the place for litter. If you put it in the garbage, then it would be garbage and not litter!

Think about it.
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Old 01-18-2005, 07:11 AM   #17
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rofl @ davek

never heard it put that way
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Old 01-18-2005, 08:59 AM   #18
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Refuse can go in the garbage or just litter teh ground but I get your meaning.
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Old 01-18-2005, 09:08 AM   #19
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The only beef I have with drugs is the actions people will take while under their influence. As we can see with DUI laws, the government doesn't really care about that. Letting people buy alcohol legally and slapping them on the wrist when they are driving, then turning around and sending people to prison for doing illegal drugs in their own home. Hypocrisy at its finest.

The only legal reason I can see for banning drugs is the actions they can make you do while on them. It looks like the only reason the government bans them is because they are 'bad' and 'dangerous to the user'. Sorry, thats a bullshit reason.
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Old 01-18-2005, 10:18 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Misty
Refuse can go in the garbage or just litter teh ground but I get your meaning.
So, if my boss refuses my vacation request, I can still take the vacation since his refuse was just garbage?
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Old 01-18-2005, 10:20 AM   #21
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Exactly Davek, go right ahead bud I won't stop you ... Actualy now that you mentioned that I think I may try that hehe.
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Old 01-18-2005, 10:21 AM   #22
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I can just see it, someone mails in a dozen "dime bags" and says, "Please mail my tax stamps to PO Box XXXX, Potsville, TN" Would that make the tax collectors then be "dealers"?
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Old 01-18-2005, 05:56 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Heretic
As we can see with DUI laws, the government doesn't really care about that. Letting people buy alcohol legally and slapping them on the wrist when they are driving, then turning around and sending people to prison for doing illegal drugs in their own home. Hypocrisy at its finest.
What an incredibly ignorant statement. Where are your figures that DUI offenders are only slapped on the wrist? The one night I spent in jail, the guy in the cell next to me was in for his SECOND DUI and he was doing 30 days. By law (at least in Alabama, where I was living at the time), your 3rd DUI costs you your license, period. If you think losing your license permanently is light punishment, think again.

I'm not saying that there aren't those that don't get off easy, but you'll need to have more than just your statements to convince me that it's the norm. I've also seen folks get slapped on the wrist for having or selling illegal narcotics, but I don't believe that is the norm, either.
Originally Posted by Heretic
It looks like the only reason the government bans them is because they are 'bad' and 'dangerous to the user'. Sorry, thats a bullshit reason.
Why is that a bullshit reason?
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Old 01-18-2005, 06:46 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Heretic
It looks like the only reason the government bans them is because they are 'bad' and 'dangerous to the user'. Sorry, thats a bullshit reason.
Are you trying to say that taking drugs is OK?
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Old 01-18-2005, 09:04 PM   #25
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Default .

Instead of putting a new tax agency to work they should just increase the fines levied against drug offenders.
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