Paul Blair

ATR Supports Rep. Tom Cole’s FDA Deeming Authority Clarification Act of 2015


Posted by Paul Blair on Tuesday, May 19th, 2015, 3:21 PM PERMALINK


Congressman Tom Cole (R-Okla.) recently introduced H.R. 2058, the “FDA Deeming Authority Clarification Act of 2015.” This legislation would prevent the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from banning tobacco products (like cigars) and 99 percent of the innovative vapor and electronic cigarette products that have hit the market since 2007.

The FDA is finalizing a regulatory framework for premium cigars and vapor products that stands to require pre-market approval for all products that have hit the market since February 15, 2007. Any product on the market prior to that date would largely be exempt and any product that has hit the market since then would be given two years to apply for approval.

H.R. 2058 moves up the 2007 date to the date of the announced “deeming regulation,” which is likely to occur later this year. This would permit products that have hit the market since 2007 to remain on the shelves, pending approval. This is important for a number of reasons. First, nearly every vapor product on the market today did not exist in 2007. The thousands of e-liquids and countless versions of electronic cigarettes available to smokers looking for an effective way to quit would be banned pending FDA approval without a change to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act or subsequent Tobacco Control Act of 2009, which established the 2007 date.

That Act was intended to apply to cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and roll your own products. The FDA’s attempt to categorize new products under the authority given to them by that legislation lays out two pathways to “legalization” for new products on the market. The first is “substantial equivalence,” whereby a manufacturer must file for a tobacco product application, which includes clinical trials and would be relatively expensive for small and medium sized businesses.

Rep. Cole’s common-sense legislation moves up this substantial equivalence 2007 date to date of deeming regulation in 2015 and would prevent countless companies from having to cease operations given the cost of compliance for products that are already being sold to consumers.

If this legislative change if not made, and for the companies who could afford compliance, the FDA would be inundated with applications that the agency is not equipped to fast-track for approval. For combustible cigarette smokers looking to or considering quitting with e-cigarettes, this would be a tragedy as countless innovative smoking cessation devices would be at risk of never being sold.

The FDA has claimed that it does not have the power to modify the February 15, 2007 date, making a Congressional solution imperative. Americans for Tax Reform supports H.R. 2058 and urges more members to join on as co-sponsors in the coming weeks. This legislation will encourage innovation and teardown an unnecessary federal barrier to the sale of many products that stand to improve public health. 

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Pomegranny

I contacted my reps about it. Good reply from my state senator (Washington State) who is actually on the committee. Sure hope I'll wind up being happy I voted for her. I, of course, am a CASAA member and all for it. Best wishes, Tom Cole and sponsors.


ATR Opposes DC Mayor Muriel Bowser's Proposed Tax Hikes

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Posted by Paul Blair on Monday, May 11th, 2015, 5:02 PM PERMALINK


As the Washington, DC City Council weighs Mayor Muriel Bowser’s 2016 budget, low and middle-income taxpayers should be wary. Last Friday, ATR testified before the Committee of the Whole to express our concerns regarding Bowser’s regressive tax hikes.

Among other things, the $12.9 billion budget submitted by Bowser raises the city’s sales tax from 5.75% to 6% despite growing city revenue and annual growth. This $22 million tax hike would adversely affect the city’s poorest, even if intended to fund government projects to their benefit. The city rejected this increase last year, when Bowser was on the Council.

“It’s the most regressive kind of tax . . . and besides, you save raising the tax for the rainy day,” said D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D), noting that local revenue is projected to grow to more than $7 billion next year, an increase of $185 million, or nearly 3 percent. “When revenues are growing by 3 percent, you don’t need to be raising taxes.”

Another tax increase contained in the budget targets smokers looking for an effective way to quit. Bowser's 70% tax on electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) would constitute more than 1200% increase on the products currently subjected to the city’s 5.75% sales tax. This tax on quitting smoking is misguided and will result in closed businesses and a loss of city jobs.

That testimony can be found in its entirety here:

Chairman Mendelson and Members of the DC City Council,

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform, thank you for providing us the opportunity to testify before the Committee of the Whole this morning.

Americans for Tax Reform is a non-profit taxpayer advocacy organization based here in Washington, D.C. that has existed since 1985. Last year, ATR was happy to support the historic tax reform package passed into law by the Council, which broadened the base of taxable services, reduced tax rates for individuals and businesses and took a step in the right direction towards making DC more competitive.

Unfortunately, this year’s Budget Request and Support Acts take a step in the wrong direction, particularly targeting low and middle-income consumers with higher, regressive taxes.

First, the proposal to raise the sales tax to 6%. District revenues are growing. This happens in periods of natural and competitive growth and makes this tax hike unnecessary. To target those who can least afford it with $22 million in higher taxes on the products they purchase just to get by flies in the face of last year’s tax reform package aimed at encouraging people to live, stay, shop, and move into the District.

Second, the proposal to raise taxes on electronic cigarettes and vapor products contained in the Vapor Products Amendment Act of 2015. Last year this Council changed the way DC taxes tobacco based on a recommendation from the DC Tax Reform Commission and the Tobacco Free Coalition. Electronic cigarettes and vapor products were exempt from being defined as tobacco for good reason. They’re tobacco-free and they’re effective smoking cessation products that stand to save thousands of lives in DC and millions of tax dollars.

The massively unjustifiable 70% tax on the wholesale cost of vapor products will guarantee that the poorest DC residents continue smoking combustible tobacco cigarettes. And while projections assert that this new tax will result in $382,000 in revenue next year, that is extremely unlikely because it assumes two things.

First, that consumers who have and are looking to make the switch from tobacco to vapor products will not simply buy the products in Maryland or Virginia, where the products are taxed at 6 percent in retail locations.

Second, that DC vapor product sales won’t go online where the District does not have the authority to tax or regulate sales to consumers.

Both assumptions are wrong and will result in less revenue than anticipated and less sales tax revenue from products currently taxed at 5.75 percent in DC retail locations. For products costing as much as $300, not even wealthy consumers will purchase the products in DC retail locations.

There are real, operational, new businesses in this City who stand to be put out of business with this tax hike. While they can speak better to the new employees they’ve hired, the rent, income, and sales taxes they’re paying, I wanted to echo their concerns. Increasing the cost of vapor products by 70 percent will make their sales no longer viable in DC. These shops may shut down and the city’s tax policies will discourage new shops from opening. This budget stands to kill current and future jobs.

The Director of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products remarked last year, “If we could get all of those people to completely switch all of their cigarettes to noncombustible cigarettes (electronic/vapor), it would be good for public health.” Does this Council disagree? Should we not create tax policy that facilitates and encourages consumers switching to tobacco-free technology products without placing an undue and costly burden on them?

Even as the FDA considers a set of guidelines on the industry, they admit vapor products are likely good for public health. That’s precisely why vapor products may save the District millions of tax dollars. The cost borne by taxpayers for the use of tobacco by recipients of Medicaid far outweighs the revenue generated from cigarette sales or tobacco settlement payments by an astounding 200 percent, according to a recent study by State Budget Solutions. Vapor products, used by lower and middle-income consumers on Medicaid will bring down the long-term health care costs paid for by the rest of District taxpayers. 

There’s a reason every state in the nation that considered taxing vapor products like tobacco in 2014 failed. Politicians in both parties agree that vapor products may just accomplish what lawmakers have failed to do for decades: ending tobacco cigarette use, as we know it. Any policies, including higher taxes that make it more expensive for residents to make the switch to far healthier alternatives, should be rejected.

We urge the City Council to reject the Mayor’s tax hike proposals.​

 

Photo Credit: 
Crystal Nicole Davis

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Hawaii Bans Smoking For Young Adults, Lets Kids Continue to Have Sex

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Posted by Paul Blair on Monday, April 27th, 2015, 4:15 PM PERMALINK


Hawaii is poised to become the first state in the nation to increase the legal smoking age to 21. In a move that indicates this has absolutely nothing to do with public health, the bill passed by the legislature on Friday also prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from purchasing tobacco-free electronic cigarettes.

While some localities, like New York City, have raised the legal smoking age to 21, if Gov. David Ige signs this law, Hawaii will become the first state to impose a statewide ban on young adult access to legal cigarettes. The law would go into effect January 1, 2016.

An example of an absurd claim regarding cigarette advertising came from Sen. Rosalyn Baker, who introduced the bill. “While the industry is not allowed to directly market to children, it is still developing packaging and advertising products in ways that appeal to children.”

No offense to the producers of Marlboro, but these are among the most boring and unappealing packaging designs imaginable:

Regarding e-cigarettes, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently weighing a new set of deeming regulations regarding advertising and sales. Hawaii should defer to the FDA for guidance on this regulatory framework. 

At least one opponent of the legislation, Democratic Sen. Gil Riviere had some common sense insight: “You can sign contracts, you can get married, you can go to war and lose an arm or lose an eye… you come back and you’re 20 years old and you can’t have a s cigarette.”

The logic behind legislation saying “cigarettes are disgusting and should be banned” might as well apply to all adults, Riviere’s thinking goes (sarcastically).

The Nanny State is out of control.

Think about this. Beyond being able to serve in the military - putting your life at risk in many cases in the course of war for your country, in Hawaii, the legal age of consent is 16. There is a “close in age exception” that allows kids, yes children, who are 14 years old to also legally have sex with anyone who is less than 5 years older than they are. Hawaii has clearly concluded that middle schoolers have enough maturity and cognitive development to consent to sex with high school graduates, but not enough to think about the impact of cigarette use. 

Think what you will about age of consent laws but compare the double standard for permitting two different personal choices, both of which may have significant life-long consequences.

Hawaii’s rationale seems to be that what you do in your own bedroom is your call, unless it includes the use of tobacco and e-cigarettes. In the latter cases, the government must save you from yourself. 

Give me a break.

Photo Credit: 
Daniel Ramirez

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LibertyBill_1776

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its
victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under
robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

C. S. Lewis
English essayist & juvenile novelist (1898 - 1963)

binthere222

But smoking dope is ok? We wouldn't have this problem if tobacco farmers were democrats.

arnaux

In the end government always becomes the enemy of freedom. One they get into office they all begin to protect you against yourself as they feather their own nest and push their own agendas while we pay them.
Hawaii sinks deeper and deeper into apathy as the oppressive cloud of government falls over everyone. Only tourism holds them up but they will go the way of California as they do-nothing people increase and continue to vote themselves money they didn't earn.


Martinez Signs Asset Forfeiture Reform

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Posted by Jorge Marin, Paul Blair on Friday, April 10th, 2015, 3:54 PM PERMALINK


Americans for Tax Reform would like to applaud Governor Susana Martinez (R-N.M.) and the state legislature for passing historic civil asset forfeiture reform legislation. The governor, a former district attorney, signed HB 560 which passed the legislature unanimously earlier this month. In a recent letter to Martinez, ATR urged the governor to sign this important law:

We ask that you help put an end to a regime that allows authorities to take and keep property from individuals not charged with a crime. By signing the bill, civil asset forfeiture is changed into criminal asset forfeiture; thereby ensuring that criminals, not law-abiding civilians, pay the price for broken laws.

In her a released statement, Martinez asserts “the changes made by this legislation improve the transparency and accountability of the forfeiture process and provide further protections to innocent property owners.”

This is, of course balanced with concern for law enforcement.

She asks that “we… ensure that our law enforcement officers have the training, protection, and tools necessary to fight crime within our borders. The burden is on public officials at every level to ensure that our law enforcement officers are respected for the work they do and have all the resources they need to protect our families.”

Civil asset forfeiture has been in the spotlight as a problematic tool that may invite abuse by some in the law enforcement community; however, New Mexico now finds itself leading the charge in reforms aimed at protecting the constitutional rights of Americans.

Hopefully, lawmakers and politicians will follow New Mexico’s example in protecting both citizens and law enforcement with similar reform legislation.

Photo Credit: 
Denise Womack-Avila

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ATR Opposes Transportation Tax Hikes in Idaho

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Posted by Paul Blair on Wednesday, April 8th, 2015, 8:29 AM PERMALINK


Yesterday, the Idaho state Senate amended a transportation plan to include new gas and car tax hikes to be phased in over the next four years. Intended to fund transportation projects, the $126.6 million tax hike cleared the Senate 22 to 13 and heads to the House for approval. Without a re-appropriation of funds from other parts of the budget, the state faces a $262 million shortfall for maintenance of its roads and bridges.

Click here to send a letter to your representatives and Governor Otter telling them to reject this tax hike. 

The House recently passed a 7-cent gas tax hike, which was coupled with a cut in the top income tax rates and the elimination of the sales tax on groceries. The Senate killed that bill without a debate or vote. 

Idaho’s gas tax stands at 25 cents per gallon and when combined with the federal 18.4 cents per gallon of gas taxes, Idaho consumers pay 43.4 cents per gallon of gas in taxes. The Senate amendment would raise the Idaho gas tax to 35 cents per gallon for a total of 53.4 cents per gallon total paid in taxes by Idaho commuters. That's higher than consumers pay in neighboring Montana, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, and Oregon. 

The plan would raise the gas tax 4 cents this year, 4 cents in 2017, and another 2 cents in 2019.

Idaho Sen. Steve Vick (R-Dalton Gardens) opposed the tax increase, noting, "This is a very large tax increase…In my opinion, to come in, in the best revenue year since I’ve been here, to take all of that money and allocate it and raise taxes on top of that, I don’t think is frugal or conservative.” 

The original House bill contained $20 million in new revenue. The Senate’s tax hike is 8.5 times larger than the House transportation package, which relied on registration fee increases of $15 on cars and trucks and $6 on motorcycles. 

Another legislator who opposed the bill, Sen. Grant Burgoyne (D-Boise) noted the rushed nature of the proposal. “If we pass this, my constituents will never be heard on it…I didn't think that’s the way we did business.”

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter and other lawmakers have refused to prioritize transportation projects with revenue from the general fund. This is misguided, as Sen. Steve Vick recently pointed out. From IdahoReporter.com: 

Vick said lawmakers should have found money in general fund spending hikes, at least $200 million in this year, to ease the burden of the gas tax and fee increases.

“To the citizens, it all comes out of the same pocket for them,” Vick said. “They have to budget for it. To those people, this is all the same money.”

Instead of focusing on ways to extract more revenue from taxpayers, commuters and small businesses in Idaho, the legislature should fund transportation with currently collected revenue, regardless of which fund it comes from. There isn’t a rule against using general fund money for transportation; it’s illogical to pretend that there is. General fund revenue should be spent on the legislature's greatest priorities, which should include maintaining state roads and bridges. 

The Idaho House should reject this tax hike and demand tax relief instead. 

Sign a letter to your representatives and the Governor by clicking here! 

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ATR Joins Coalition Opposed to Free Speech Restrictions in Georgia


Posted by Paul Blair on Thursday, April 2nd, 2015, 1:59 PM PERMALINK


Today, Americans for Tax Reform joined a coalition of conservative organizations and individuals opposing free speech restrictions in Georgia. If signed by Governor Nathan Deal, Senate Bill 127 would restrict the ability of nonprofit organizations from engaging in public debates and political discourse during election years. A House amendment was made to a Senate ethics bill that would subject nonprofit organizations to disclosure requirements imposed upon political campaigns and PACs. 

From the letter: 

"SB 127 now is remarkably similar to recent legislation pushed by former Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Washington, D.C. designed to silence advocacy groups from educating the voting public. Fortunately, it didn’t pass at the federal level."

This is a clear effort intended to silence critics of incumbent legislators and it flies in the face of Supreme Court protections against this type of legislation.

"The 1958 Supreme Court case of NAACP v. Alabama put a stop to this type of onerous legislative restriction on free speech and free association. The Court’s decision to provide for “immunity from state scrutiny” for organizations like the NAACP at the time guaranteed an important protection on First Amendment rights. The case protected members of organizations from intimidation and harassment. The 2010 case of Citizens United v. FEC further restored free-speech protections for non-profit organizations.

SB 127 would tear down those constitutionally protected rights, for individuals and organizations."

SB 127 stands to do far more damage than simply shielding legislators from educated voters. 

"If this bill is signed into law, Georgia would restrict free speech and association more so than any other state in the nation. SB 127 stands to hurt not only the organizations who participate in public discourse but the voters, taxpayers, and residents of Georgia who will no longer be entitled to know where elected officials truly stand on important public policy issues.

The clandestine and confusing efforts to advance SB 127 not only make for bad public policy, but are seen by members of impacted organizations as a legislative weapon intended to silence dissenting voices."

Click here to read the full letter. 

The coalition letter was signed by *(updated list): 

Linda Fowler, Georgia Tea Party Patriots

Teresa Tatum, Georgia Tea Party Patriots

Debbie Dooley, Atlanta Tea Party & Georgia Tea Party Patriots

Jenny Beth Martin, Co-Founder of Tea Party Patriots, Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund

Jeanne Seaver, Chairman/ President of Georgia Grassroots Coalition

Erick Erickson, Editor of RedState.com

Tim Head, Executive Director of Faith and Freedom Coalition

Patrick Parsons, Executive Director of Georgia Gun Owners

Stuart Griffin, Chairman of Georgia Pro Life

Jason Pye, Georgia Resident/Director of Messaging at FreedomWorks

David Bossie, President and Chairman of Citizens United

Marjorie Dannenfelser, President of Susan B. Anthony List

Brent Wm. Gardner, Vice President of Government Affairs at Americans for Prosperity

Charmaine Yoest, President & CEO of Americans United for Life

Matt Kibbe, President of FreedomWorks

Ed Martin, President of Eagle Forum

Amy Noone Frederick, President of 60 Plus Association

L. Brent Bozell III, Chairman of ForAmerica

Phil Kerpen, President of American Commitment

Virginia Galloway, Southern Regional Director of Faith and Freedom Coalition

Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform

Healther Higgins, President and CEO of Independent Women's Voice

 

 

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Georgia Lawmakers Pass Massive New Tax Hikes Targeting Tourism and Commuters


Posted by Paul Blair on Wednesday, April 1st, 2015, 5:37 PM PERMALINK


Last night, Georgia lawmakers passed House Bill 170, a massive transportation funding bill that will raise taxes by $700 million a year. Americans for Tax Reform opposed the legislation and urged the legislature to prioritize currently collected revenue to fund new and existing transportation projects instead. 

Georgia ranks 36th in the country in the Tax Foundation's State Business Tax Climate. Florida ranks 5th. As Florida looks to further reduce the net tax burden on residents, particularly low-income ones, Georgia continues to fall behind by not working to simplify the tax code with pro-growth policies that reduce the net burden on small businesses and consumers. This may prove to be a boon for Governor Rick Scott, who has worked hard to attract new residents and businesses to the Sunshine State. 

Here is a list of the tax hikes including in HB 170: 

  • A new $200 fee on electric vehicles and the elimination of a $5,000 tax credit for purchases or leases of electric cars;
  • A new fee on heavy trucks between $50-$100 amounting to a $50 million tax hike;
  • A new $5 per night hotel or motel occupancy tax amounting to a $200 million tax hike;
  • A recalculation of the statewide gas tax and fee structure amounting to $390 million in tax hikes.


According to the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, "Local sales taxes on motor fuel amount to about 6 cents per gallon at current prices, so a revenue-neutral excise tax that does not change local sales taxes on motor fuel would equal 23.2 cents per gallon." Unfortunately, this legislation was not revenue-neutral. HB 170 imposes a new state 26 and 29 cent excise tax per gallon of gas and diesel. This is on top of the local taxes and a federal 18.4 cent per gallon gas and 24.4 diesel tax.  

A last minute addition to the legislation included the $5 per night motel and hotel tax. These taxes are a top target for lawmakers who like raising taxes without doing so on people who can vote them out of office. These taxes punish hoteliers, small businesses that provide jobs and help stoke economic growth in their communities. Higher taxes reduce hotel business, which hurts downstream businesses such as restaurants and convenience stores whose success depends on hotel traffic. In inserting this tax hike into HB 170 at the last minute, legislators targeted the 5th largest employer in the state, an industry that already generates $2.8 billion in direct and indirect revenue for Georgia. 

ATR opposes House Bill 170 and if Governor Nathan Deal signs it, he will be violating his Taxpayer Protection Pledge to Georgia taxpayers. 

Click here to read Paul Blair's op-ed in the Daily Caller on the tactics employed by supporters of this legislation to try to silence critics like ATR. 

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Mike

eliminating the tax credit for electric vehicles is a good move. Stop crony capitalism.

ds80

Thank you for the intellectually vacant comment, b;eek.

b;eek

your state sucks...ass
racist sh!thole


Cigarettes: A Case Study in the Slow Rise of Excise Taxes


Posted by Paul Blair on Monday, March 30th, 2015, 1:26 PM PERMALINK


The 18th century English writer Dr. Samuel Johnson defined excise taxes as "A hateful tax levied upon commodities, and adjudged not by the common judges of property, but wretches hired by those to whom excise is paid." In the midst of ongoing debates about tax hikes on tobacco cigarettes, liquor, soda, and vapor products, this seems relevant. 

Over the last two years, a new target for the public health wretches has emerged, replacing the long-standing number one target of sin taxes aimed at extracting money from low-income consumers. Electronic cigarettes and vapor products are disruptive, innovative, technology products that are accomplishing what the public health community never could - they're getting people to quit smoking. Some estimates and national surveys suggest that more than six million people in the United States are daily vapers. This comes at a time when cigarette smoking rates are among the lowest they've been in years. 

In 2014, 15 states considered proposals to tax vapor products like tobacco products with taxes as high as 95 percent. Alternative proposals, like those on the books in North Carolina, subject vapor products to a smaller tax of $.05 per mL of liquid nicotine. A proposal in Arkansas this year would do the same thing. 

A recent history of cigarette tax increases should provide some insight into the future of e-cigarette and vapor product taxes, should more states add excise taxes to the books with regards to the products. As we at ATR have noted before, e-cigarettes should not be taxed like tobacco products. Currently, only Minnesota and North Carolina impose sin taxes on the products - with Minnesota taxing them at 95 percent, up 75 percent from two years ago. 

But what about smaller taxes, less than 75, 95, or 50 percent? A look at cigarette tax hikes since 2000 may shed light on the threat of accepting such proposals. 

The average excise tax on a pack of cigarettes in 1999 was 38.9 cents. Today, the current average excise tax is $1.54 per pack. States have increased tobacco taxes about five times as often as they have raised alcohol taxes between 2000 and 2015, with 111 increases over that time according to the National Association of State Budget Officers


Source: NASBO

Click here for a list of every statewide cigarette tax hike between 2000 and 2015. 

As you can see, the years during and immediately following a recession saw the largest number of cigarette tax increases. In 2003, 19 states increased tobacco taxes; 15 in 2004 and 16 in 2010. 

What does any of this have to do with e-cigarettes and vapor products? Many state legislators have begun to realize that their increasing reliance on tobacco revenue to fund a wide range of programs may have been a bad bet. With declining cigarette revenue, states stand to lose (and are) billions of dollars in tax dollars. One would hope this could be celebrated, as less and less people are smoking but many legislators are clearly more concerned with compensating for this declining and lost revenue. And not in public health. 

E-cigarettes are the new target. Click here to view a map of the tax threats in the states. 

The rise in cigarette excise taxes over the past 15 years should provide a warning to those who think once a tax is on the books in a state, there won't be efforts to raise it slowly over time. Minnesota's tax on e-cigarettes began at 75 percent and is now 95 percent. Some taxes are far more damaging than others. But the fact remains, it is much easier to fend off new taxes than to fight higher taxes. Just ask smokers. 

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Governor Rick Scott Kicks Off “Cut My Taxes Week” at Florida State Capital

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Posted by Paul Blair on Tuesday, March 24th, 2015, 4:56 PM PERMALINK


Today, Gov. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) kicked off “Cut My Taxes Week” at the Florida State Capitol. Taxpayers are being invited to bring their bills and use a tax cut calculator to see their savings under the governor’s proposed cell phone and TV tax cut.

Whether or not you’re a resident of Florida, you can use the calculator to see what kind of savings you’d experience under Gov. Scott’s proposal by clicking here.

The Florida Communication Services Tax (CST) is imposed on cell phones, cable and satellite TV, and non-residential landline phone services. While the state rate is 9.17 percent, with local taxes the average rate exceeds 14 percent and is as high as 17 percent in some areas.

Governor Scott’s proposed tax cut reduces the state portion by 3.6 percent to 5.57 percent, which equates to a potential $470 million in annual savings for taxpayers. Estimates suggest the cut will save every single Florida family around $43-$54 a year, depending on their provider and service.

Source: KeepFloridaWorking.com 

Currently, Florida has the fourth highest CST rate in the country, behind Washington, Nebraska, and New York. These state, local, and federal taxes can add up to more than 22 percent of service costs, which represent a significant burden on families, especially low-income ones. Prepaid calling services are not subjected to these high discretionary tax rates, making switching more attractive.

The CST tax is not neutral as it forces consumers to alter their behaviors. Reducing it will provide financial relief to families and small businesses and may create jobs by attract more investments in telecommunications infrastructure.

Gov. Scott is so committed to this most recent set of tax cuts that he will be manning the booth at the state capitol himself today and tomorrow. Florida residents are encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity to calculate their savings with the governor in person.

The Senate Communications, Energy, and Public Utilities Committee unanimously passed a version of Scott’s tax cut. Americans for Tax Reform encourages the entire legislature to pass the CST cell phone and TV tax relief legislation.

Flashback: Governor Rick Scott has already signed over $2 billion in tax cuts into law. He also campaigned for re-election on reducing the communications tax and is a signer of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.

Photo Credit: 
WatchDog Wire

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Documents: California Department of Public Health Launches $75 Million Campaign to Discourage Vaping


Posted by Paul Blair on Monday, March 23rd, 2015, 4:33 PM PERMALINK


Today, the California Department of Public Health (CADPH) kicked off a new public relations campaign aimed at discouraging consumers from using electronic cigarettes and vapor products. Documents reveal that a cost of $75 million to taxpayers, this campaign is the most recent in a long list of efforts to create negative public sentiment about vaping.

In a press release, the CADPH stated that today they were going to “premiere a series of television, digital, and outdoor ads in a new campaign called ‘Wake Up,’ as part of its educational effort to inform the public about the dangers of e-cigarettes.”

Thought they do not announce the cost of the program in the press release, documents from the California Tobacco Control Program Funding Opportunities and Resources reveal the cost of this campaign: “Approximately $75 million is estimated to be available for the five-year contract period.”

A website, www.stillblowingsmoke.org is being promoted by the state. To the tune of the 1958 song by The Chordettes, one ad flashes images of young adults vaping. Another ad claims that e-cigarettes are “a new way to inhale toxic chemicals with a drug addictive as heroin.”

"The orchestrators of this campaign at the California Department of Public Health should be ashamed of themselves. For years, public health bureaucrats claimed that efforts to discourage smoking were about increasing public health. This most recent $75 million taxpayer-funded effort has further exposed the fraud of those claims by demonstrating that anti-vaping government activists care about one thing and one thing alone: money," said ATR president Grover Norquist. "Campaigns like this are clearly aimed at preventing smokers from making the transition to a much healthier alternative so that the state can continue to fund big government initiatives with cigarette tax revenue." 

The original documents from the state show that a Request for a Proposal (RFP) was released in December of 2013 as RFP 14-10003. A “pre-proposal webinar” stated that at the time, the goal was to make California “America’s largest non-smoking section.” Despite the fact that vapor products don’t contain tobacco and smoke isn’t produced in their use, this proposal asked a firm to apply for available taxpayer resources for this project.

A PowerPoint at the time noted “Other Tobacco Products” like electronic cigarettes were an area of concern. One slide suggested, “Funding: Less smoking = less tax collected” with regards to smoking.

In targeting an effective smoking cessation device – vapor products – it is clear that the California Department of Public Health wants to maintain cigarette sales as an important funding source for their big spending priorities. By discouraging vaping, the state may recoup potential revenue losses that occur when a smoker transitions from unhealthy cigarette use to products proven to be 99% less harmful, but not taxed as much. In doing so, the CADPH is putting at risk thousands of lives as they promote lies about the innovative and disruptive technology products that have grown in popularity over the last 5 years.

E-cigarettes are accomplishing what social engineers never could: they’re getting people to quit smoking across all demographics. And they’re accomplishing this without taxpayer funded PR campaigns or government bans and regulations.

A joint effort by the American Vaping Association, The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association, and the Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association mocks CADPH’s propaganda and creates a different narrative about the product with a website of their own: www.notblowingsmoke.org. The website uses similar graphics and images, flipping the script on the CADPH.

Here is one example from a CADPH ad:

From notblowingsmoke.org

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Dragonmum

This is not going to end well for Public Health California - even Californians can't be blind to what's going on - this is blatant lying manipulation, and people will pay for it with their lives, literally!

mobtek mobtekl

Time for a class action to sue California for putting peoples lives at risk from continued smoking.

Some Rabbit

tax revenue is more addictive than nicotine apparently.


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