New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Proposes New Vape Tax in Budget Request
In his $152.3 billion state budget proposal, Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) proposed a 10-cent per mL tax on the liquid contained in electronic cigarettes and vapor products. The tax would be imposed on the wholesale level and would apply both to e-liquid that contains nicotine and e-liquid that does not. According to state revenue estimates, the tax would generate $3 million annually.
This reckless tax hike proposal flies in the face of conclusive evidence that vapor products are effective smoking cessation tools that represent no greater than 5 percent of the harms to consumers as traditional combustible tobacco cigarettes. Balancing the state budget on the backs of smokers looking to quit flies in the face of decades of efforts aimed at curbing cigarette use to drive down public health costs.
Currently, six states impose an excise tax on vapor products including North Carolina (5 cents per mL), Louisiana (5 cents per mL), Kansas (20 cents per mL), West Virginia (7.5 cents per mL), Pennsylvania (40% wholesale), and Minnesota (95% wholesale). Beginning April 1, California will also impose a 27.3% wholesale tax on vapor products.
Earlier this month I outlined the possible relationship between state overspending problems like New York's and possible tax threats to vapor products in the states. That map can be found below and the original piece can be read here. Click the map to enlarge.
Though only a small portion of Cuomo’s large tax hike plans (including an extension of the nearly 9% “temporary” tax surcharge on income over $1 million), the tax on vapor products is among the most punitive. It not only targets smokers, who are some of the most heavily taxed consumers in the United States, but it targets former smokers who have found vapor products as a successful means of quitting smoking. Similar to other nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs), vapor products should remain taxed at the sales tax rate exclusively.
The state’s declining revenue collections from cigarettes may play a role in the increased interest from the governor in taxing vapers. During the current fiscal year, tobacco products generated about $1.3 billion for the state, a figure projected to decrease to roughly $1.2 billion this year and even further in future years. At $4.35 per pack, New York’s state cigarette tax is the highest in that nation. Residents of the Big Apple are hit with another local tax that brings smokes bought there to a per pack tax rate of $5.85.
This high cigarette tax rate has led to the highest rate of cigarette smuggling in the nation. According to an analysis conducted by the nonpartisan Tax Foundation and Mackinac Center for Public Policy, 55.4 percent of cigarettes consumed in the state are smuggled in, which helps consumers avoid paying taxes on the products.
Unlike cigarettes, consumers can purchase vapor products online where taxes are not collected or imposed by the government. This will result in the closing of vape shops across the Empire State, a loss in sales, income, and excise tax revenue, and will harm those seeking a brick and mortar experience in their quit journey.
The legislature should reject this senseless cash grab and focus on spending restraint instead.
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ATR Statement in Support of Steven Mnuchin for Treasury Secretary
ATR President Grover Norquist issued the following statement today in support of President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of Steven Mnuchin for Secretary of the Treasury:
“Americans for Tax Reform supports Donald Trump’s nomination of Steven Mnuchin to be the next Secretary of the Treasury. Mr. Mnuchin truly understands the importance of tax reform and its positive impact on economic growth and job creation. He has extensive experience in housing, finance, banking, and trade, as well as a far-reaching comprehension of financial markets.
“Mr. Mnuchin has committed to passing pro-growth tax reform in 2017. It has been more than thirty years since tax reform was last signed into law and our tax code is woefully outdated and uncompetitive. Pro-growth reform will ensure higher wages, more jobs, and a stronger economy while also helping our businesses compete with the rest of the world.
“Under President Obama Americans have seen the role of government in the market increase exponentially with regulatory regimes such as the Dodd-Frank Act. While Dodd-Frank was supposed to target Wall Street, impacts of the law have instead fallen heaviest on Main Street, reducing small business lending, shuttering credit unions and community banks, and growing the number of unbanked Americans.
“Mr. Mnuchin has made it clear that reforming the Dodd-Frank Act will be his ‘number one priority on the regulatory side’ once he becomes Secretary of the Treasury.
“I know that Mr. Mnuchin will be a leader in his role as Treasury head, and will work to ensure American consumers and taxpayers are protected, while also working to foster a regulatory climate that allows business to grow and prosper.”
Photo credit: greatagain.gov
A stimulus during a boom, even a small boom, is unwise
Norquist: Trump and House GOP Tax Reform Plan Coming Together
ATR president Grover Norquist was a guest today on Mornings with Maria on the Fox Business Network to discuss tax reform. He said:
The big story over time is how Trump’s plan and the House Republican plan – Chairman Brady and Paul Ryan – have come together. Remember, Trump started at 15% -- the corporate rate – and the Republican plan started at 25%. When they updated it they moved it to 20% towards where Trump was. Trump’s was the only Republican plan, of all the 1500 Republican candidates for president, he was the only one who didn’t include full expensing for business investment in his first plan. Second plan, he joined with the House in going to full expensing for business. So rather than long depreciation schedules, you expense it the first year. Very powerful pro-growth tool. So on both of the drivers of growth, full expensing and a lower corporate rate, the Trump plan and the House Republican plan have moved towards each other in the right direction.
The full video can be found here
Norquist Statement Urging Support of Betsy DeVos Nomination
ATR President Grover Norquist sent the following letter urging senators to approve the nomination of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education:
On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform, I write you to urge your committee and the full United States Senate to approve the nomination of Betsy DeVos to become the Secretary of Education.
Betsy DeVos has been a leader in providing innovative solutions to bring higher quality education to children throughout the United States who are most lacking in educational options and opportunity.
As chairperson of the American Federation for Children, Mrs. DeVos assisted organizations and lawmakers in dozens of states to promote and adopt policies to enable students, particularly from high-need communities, to have equal access to schools that best meet their educational needs.
Thanks in part to Mrs. DeVos, more than half the states have tax policies that encourage charitable donations to scholarship funds to help students from low-income families, or encourage support for students with disabilities, or enable parents to choose schools that best meet the needs of their children. More than 40 states now have charter school laws.
The specific approach of education tax credits to encourage increased charitable support for scholarship funds has been especially effective in providing children from low-income families a financial pathway to attend a quality school – something that upper income parents already can provide for their children. At present, 17 states have a donation tax credit law for scholarships, which serve as models for Congress to consider adopting nationally so that many more children can be empowered to attend schools that will provide the education they need and deserve.
Thanks to the leadership and encouragement of Betsy DeVos, there are millions of students who have an education that puts them on a quality-of-life trajectory to become productive citizens.
It is this kind of national leadership that has made a positive difference in the lives of so many students that warrants your approval for Betsy DeVos to become the next Secretary of Education.
President, Americans for Tax Reform
Rep. Emmer's "CREATE Jobs Act" Will Fix America's Competitiveness Problem
Congressman Tom Emmer (R-MN) recently introduced H.R. 533, the Corporate Rate Equality and Trade Empowerment (CREATE) Jobs Act. This innovative legislation lowers the corporate tax rate to a globally competitive level so American businesses are able to compete in the global economy. ATR urges all members of Congress to support and co-sponsor Rep. Emmer’s bill.
America’s corporate income tax rate is close to 15 percent higher than the average in the developed world. The tax rate has barely changed since tax reform was passed 30 years ago in 1986. At the time, we lowered our rate to 39 percent – below the developed average of 44 percent. Since then, other countries have cut their rates aggressively.
32 of the 35 developed countries have reduced their corporate rates since 2000. Only the U.S. and Chile have higher corporate tax rates than they did in 2000. Our high rate makes it difficult, if not impossible for our businesses to compete with competitors that have much lower rates Canada (26.3 percent), the United Kingdom (20 percent), and Ireland (12.5 percent).
The CREATE Jobs act would address this inequity by reducing the U.S. corporate rate to five points below the OECD average and creating a process by which the U.S. rate is regularly reviewed to ensure economic competitiveness.
The current high U.S. rate not only hurts American competitiveness, it has real world implications for the economy. The high rate has resulted in close to 50 American businesses leaving the country through an inversion in the past decade, according to data compiled by Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee. The uncompetitive code has also resulted in a net loss of more than $700 billion in assets that have been acquired by foreign competitors according to a report by Ernst and Young.
By creating a system that creates a competitive corporate tax rate, Rep. Emmer’s CREATE Jobs Act ensures that the U.S. again becomes a leader in the global economy and it stays there. Members of Congress should support and pass H.R. 533 to help provide a much needed booster shot to the economy.
The letter can be read here.
ATR Supports Rep. Renacci's "Fiscal State of the Nation" Resolution
ATR today sent a letter in support for H.Con.Res.8, the Fiscal State of the Nation Resolution, introduced by Congressman Jim Renacci (R-Ohio) along with 34 other members of the House of Representatives.
This bipartisan resolution will require the Comptroller of the United States to provide an official report on the financial status of the United States to a joint session of Congress.
Financial statements for the United States are already compiled, but are too complex and too long. As a result, important information on the federal government’s assets, liabilities, revenues, expenses, and sustainability of programs are often ignored or missed by Members of Congress, the media, and the public.
The full letter can be read here.
Photo credit: Cafecredit.com
ATR Supports the Health Savings Act of 2017
Americans for Tax Reform recently sent a letter supporting H.R. 35, the Health Savings Act of 2017 sponsored by Congressman Michael Burgess (R-Texas). By making important improvements to HSAs this commonsense legislation gives individuals and families the ability to make the best decision for their medical needs.
The incoming Congress is committed to reform our health care system by repealing and replacing Obamacare as well as implementing reforms that put patients first and are fiscally responsible. The Heath Savings Act of 2017 will expand the limits of HSAs, helping to ensure patient-centered healthcare reforms by keeping costs low and allowing Americans to make decisions that fit their needs.
ATR support the Health Savings Act of 2017 and urges all members of congress to vote is support of this commonsense legislation.
The letter can be read here.
This is NOT "commonsense" legislation! The funds that go into an HSA come out of the worker's pockets!! We had an HSA when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. We had to pay a deductible of $4k. It took us over 2 years to pay that off - in that time, we almost lost our house due to the unexpected medical bills!!! We did not make enough to have had that amount put aside "in case".
The ACA MUST NOT BE REPEALED until there is another plan in place. DO NOT leave the American citizens who work so hard every day high & dry!! PLEASE. I'm begging you.
ATR Joins Coalition Urging Confirmation of Scott Pruitt as EPA Head
Americans for Tax Reform this week joined over 20 other free market organizations in sending a letter to U.S. Senators supporting and urging confirmation of Attorney General Scott Pruitt as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Highlights from the letter are below with a PDF of the full letter.
"Attorney General Pruitt has consistently fought for Oklahoma families and communities and has been a stalwart defender against federal intrusion into state and individual rights. Notably, Mr. Pruitt led a multi-state effort opposing the EPA's unlawful attempt to take over the nation's electricity grid under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act," the letter states.
In addition to Mr. Pruitt's work fighting Obama's Clean Air Act overreach, the letter also cites that, "Attorney General Pruitt has stood up for states, families, and the Constitution by opposing the Administration's unconstitutional regulatory overreach through the re-definition of the waters of the United States."
Both the Clean Power Plan and Waters of the U.S. Rule infringe state sovereignty, impede the Constitution, and will have far reaching negative impacts on jobs, income, and economic prosperity across America if they are allowed to move forward.
Americans for Tax Reform supports all the work Mr. Pruitt has done to fight these instances of overreach and others, and urges Senators to support his confirmation as EPA Administrator.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore
Amendments to Obamacare Repeal Resolution Aim to Delay and Distract
The Senate is expected to soon vote on S.Con.Res.3, a budget resolution providing for repeal of Obamacare. This “repeal resolution” is step one in undoing the legacy of broken promises under the Barack Obama presidency which have led to higher healthcare costs, cancelled plans, lost doctors, and more than one trillion ($1,000,000,000,000) in tax increases which hit American families and small businesses.
This is a huge win for taxpayers, and should be supported by all Senators. During consideration of the repeal resolution, it is expected that Senators will also offer a number of amendments during consideration of the repeal resolution with the aim of distracting and delaying the process. One example of this is a series of introduced amendments that call for the importation of market distorting price controls on prescription medicines.
Members of the Senate should vote “no” on any importation amendments – and many of the other amendments expected to be offered during consideration of the repeal resolution. The purpose of this budget resolution is to allow for an expedited process to repeal Obamacare through budget reconciliation. More time wasted on amendments threatens the entire process of repealing Obamacare.
Importation schemes are not the solution to lower prices or a more efficient healthcare system. Instead, they would disrupt the system of medical innovation and increase long-term costs through the domino effect of fewer life-saving and life-preserving medicines. These amendments are simply an attempt by some Senators to play political games by proposing a seemingly free market way to reduce prescription drug prices.
The truth is, allowing importation of prescription medicines is not pro-free trade. Almost every other country in the world has excessive price controls on medical innovation. Prices are not determined by the free market but by politicians offering voters seemingly cheap medicines. In turn, allowing importation of a drug also means for the importation of the price controls.
This is the opposite of free trade. Free trade means transparent prices with no tariffs, barriers, or price controls. The U.S. is one of the few countries that allow drug prices to be (mostly) set by the free market, and is also a leader in medical innovation. Reversing this trend by allowing ill-thought out importation policies will hurt American innovators which pour billions of dollars each year into creating new innovative medicines that result in substantial long-term savings for our healthcare system.
The Senate will soon vote on a repeal resolution that will lead to a giant tax cut for American families and small businesses. This is a huge win.
Members should not dilute or threaten this win by passing amendments that slow or endanger the process, especially those that promote dangerous, anti-free market policies like importation of price controls on prescription medicines.
Email Privacy Act Reintroduced in Congress
On Monday, January 9th, 2017 Kansas Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) reintroduced the Email Privacy Act. This bipartisan bill will plug a loophole that allows civil and criminal investigative agencies the ability to bypass Fourth Amendment protections of our online content.
The Email Privacy Act would update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986 to underline that all a warrant is required in order to search Americans’ online communications, regardless of when the email was crafted. ECPA contains an unintended loophole that allows the government to search any email older than 180 days stored on a third-party server, such as Google Mail, Yahoo Mail or Apple’s iCloud, without a warrant.
Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform strongly argued in favor of the Email Privacy Act legislation. "American privacy was the big winner when the House passed the Email Privacy Act! They send the bill to the Senate after a 419 -0 vote. If the Senate concurs the government will need a warrant to read your e-mails—just as they have always needed a warrant to read your snail mail.”
Katie McAuliffe, ATR’s Federal Affairs Manager and Executive Director of Digital Liberty said,
“Passage of the Email Privacy Act was a large bipartisan effort and a major victory in securing American’s digital privacy. Updating the Electronic Communications Privacy Act is absolutely necessary in order to secure the privacy of emails and other items stored in the Cloud.”
In the 114th Congress (2015-2016) the House voted 419-0 to pass the legislation, but the bill stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee after amendments were offered that privacy advocates said would give the civil and criminal investigative agencies even more "unwarranted" surveillance power than the status quo.
Both House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI) are original cosponsors of the bill. Representatives Doug Collins (R-GA), Will Hurd, (R-TX), Ted Poe (R-TX), Susan DelBene (D-WA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Judy Chu (D-CA) have also joined as original cosponsors of the bill.