SC

Vapor Pledge War

A big battle over a tiny tax has erupted at the S.C. State House, with two organizations arguing over whether a new levy on e-cigarettes (a.k.a. vapor cigarettes) constitutes a violation of lawmakers’ taxpayer protection pledges. In one corner is a local organization – the South Carolina Association of Taxpayers…

A big battle over a tiny tax has erupted at the S.C. State House, with two organizations arguing over whether a new levy on e-cigarettes (a.k.a. vapor cigarettes) constitutes a violation of lawmakers’ taxpayer protection pledges.

In one corner is a local organization – the South Carolina Association of Taxpayers (SCAT). This group says the new levy doesn’t violate its taxpayer protection pledge because “dynamic forecasting models” show most e-cigarette consumers are “migrating from higher-taxed (and greater health risk) smoked cigarettes.” Accordingly, SCAT says this legislation would actually wind up being a net reduction in the state’s aggregate tax burden.

Hmmmm … we’re not sure if we buy that logic (the net reduction would be larger without any vapor tax at all), but SCAT’s release does raise a good point.

“If not assigned an appropriately lower tax rate, we are confident the context will shortly become one of taxing them at higher prevailing rates,” a letter from the group’s president states.

That’s accurate – especially in the “Republican-controlled” State Senate, which demonstrated earlier this week that it is still fully beholden to the tax-and-spend mode of governance.

In the other corner? Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), a Washington, D.C.-based organization which administers a national “taxpayer protection pledge.”

“This bill includes a new tax on vapor products,”a release from ATR’s Beltway office states. “While changing the tax structure to accommodate new products is important, it must not come at the net expense of taxpayers. For this bill to be compliant with the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, the new tax on vapor products must be stripped or offset with a corresponding tax cut elsewhere. If this bill were amended to lower taxes elsewhere so that it did not result in a net revenue increase for the state, ATR would drop its opposition.”

Here’s the thing, though. ATR’s “opposition” – as we’ve noted in the past – is entirely selective. In fact we’ve written extensively about the pointlessness of the ATR pledge given its total lack of enforcement.

Seriously … where was this group when South Carolina lawmakers were jacking up the tax on conventional “burn down” cigarettes?

Anyway, our guess is House Republicans – who loathe the influence of out-of-state groups – are likely accept the SCAT interpretation as this debate moves forward. However it will be interesting to see whether ATR’s call for a “corresponding tax cut” gets any play.

As we’ve stated repeatedly, we reject any tax hike on principle – however this debate has been dominated by all sorts of misinformation (most of it stemming from inaccurate mainstream media reports). In fact as a result of this misinformation one vapor cigarette user told us the new tax would “more than double” the purchase price of e-cigarettes – although this claim was quickly retracted after we provided the user with a copy of the legislation.

Either way we’ll be digging into the consumer side of this debate in more detail in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for those reports …

***

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22 comments

CorruptionInColumbia May 15, 2013 at 11:41 am

What is the point of taxing the e-cigs? They are supposedly less harmful than real cigarettes and are a way to wean people off of the real ones. Isn’t that part of the point of the high taxes on cigarettes to begin with. Politicians just want mo money to piss away and line their own pockets with.

Reply
Smirks May 15, 2013 at 11:45 am

There are no short-term concerns, but long-term effects are pretty much an unknown. Still, seems dumb to tax this any further than the standard taxes that apply to generally any product that has no proven health risks.

Reply
What about May 15, 2013 at 1:09 pm

This is a tax grab on a new industry and a push by large tobacco companies to overtake a new market. They aim to push out small business and other vendors by wielding the legislative sword. Enacting the tax and associated red tape will drown the little guy.

Will you should look into this.

Reply
Geoff May 16, 2013 at 10:16 am

No proven health risks? Moron.

Nicotine is pharmacologcally active. That’s why people smoke. You breathe it in against your will long enough and you too will be addicted. We don’t need nicotine in the air everywhere we go.

Reply
CorruptionInColumbia May 15, 2013 at 11:41 am

What is the point of taxing the e-cigs? They are supposedly less harmful than real cigarettes and are a way to wean people off of the real ones. Isn’t that part of the point of the high taxes on cigarettes to begin with. Politicians just want mo money to piss away and line their own pockets with.

Reply
Smirks May 15, 2013 at 11:45 am

There are no short-term concerns, but long-term effects are pretty much an unknown. Still, seems dumb to tax this any further than the standard taxes that apply to generally any product that has no proven health risks.

Reply
What about May 15, 2013 at 1:09 pm

This is a tax grab on a new industry and a push by large tobacco companies to overtake a new market. They aim to push out small business and other vendors by wielding the legislative sword. Enacting the tax and associated red tape will drown the little guy.

Will you should look into this.

Reply
Geoff May 16, 2013 at 10:16 am

No proven health risks? Moron.

Nicotine is pharmacologcally active. That’s why people smoke. You breathe it in against your will long enough and you too will be addicted. We don’t need nicotine in the air everywhere we go.

Reply
Smirks May 15, 2013 at 11:43 am

South Carolina Association of Taxpayers? Really? SCAT? Someone thought that was a good idea?

Reply
dwb619 May 16, 2013 at 8:15 pm

Smirks, Got any idea how many people “don’t know scat”?

Reply
Smirks May 15, 2013 at 11:43 am

South Carolina Association of Taxpayers? Really? SCAT? Someone thought that was a good idea?

Reply
dwb619 May 16, 2013 at 8:15 pm

Smirks, Got any idea how many people “don’t know scat”?

Reply
dumbasses May 15, 2013 at 2:25 pm

So the extension of SCAT’s logic is that if gas taxes went up and people started carpooling, it would be okay to institute a new car pool tax?

Reply
what about May 15, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Actually SCAT rescinded their support in a letter to the chairman. They were lied to about the bill.

Reply
dumbasses May 15, 2013 at 2:25 pm

So the extension of SCAT’s logic is that if gas taxes went up and people started carpooling, it would be okay to institute a new car pool tax?

Reply
what about May 15, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Actually SCAT rescinded their support in a letter to the chairman. They were lied to about the bill.

Reply
Same ol' Same ol' May 15, 2013 at 2:26 pm

Hell, if they were really concerned about the effects of cigs, they should give the damn things away.

It’s about the fucking money.

Reply
Same ol' Same ol' May 15, 2013 at 2:26 pm

Hell, if they were really concerned about the effects of cigs, they should give the damn things away.

It’s about the fucking money.

Reply
vapesquad May 15, 2013 at 5:21 pm

So SCAT’s cool with one arbitrary group of people being taxed more, as long as some other arbitrary group of people gets taxed less? What’s the point in that?

Reply
Trick May 15, 2013 at 5:21 pm

So ATR’s cool with one arbitrary group of people being taxed more, as long as some other arbitrary group of people gets taxed less? What’s the point in that?

Reply
Maxie May 16, 2013 at 10:14 am

Last night had 2 e-cigs blown in my face at an airport which was smoke free. Smoke free places have been hard one and I’m not letting these scumbags fill them with poison. If it says smoke free, that means nicotine and glycerol free too. Smoke free means e-cig free too. Spread the word. Do not let our air quality be filled with poisons.

Reply
Maxie May 16, 2013 at 10:14 am

Last night had 2 e-cigs blown in my face at an airport which was smoke free. Smoke free places have been hard one and I’m not letting these scumbags fill them with poison. If it says smoke free, that means nicotine and glycerol free too. Smoke free means e-cig free too. Spread the word. Do not let our air quality be filled with poisons.

Reply

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