Bizarre Tax on Illegal Drugs
One can never underestimate the enthusiasm that politicians have for trying to hunt up tax revenues. The creativity of some politicians can lead to bizarre taxes and unfortunate results.
Taxes on Illegal Drugs
One argument for the legalization of various narcotics is that massive tax revenues would be created. Interestingly, a few states already are trying to collect such taxes!
More than 10 states have tried to tax people that possess illegal drugs. For example, Kansas levies a drug tax on dealers as soon as they take possession of the substance
To avoid prosecution for failure to pay the drug tax, individuals possessing the drugs are supposed to purchase “drug tax stamps” and attach the stamps to the drugs in question. The stamps are valid for 3 months.
The Kansas Department of Revenue’s strategy for collecting drug taxes
In an apparent attempt to promote compliance, the Kansas Department of Revenue promises: “A dealer is not required to give his/her name or address when purchasing stamps and the Department is prohibited from sharing any information relating to the purchase of drug tax stamps with law enforcement or anyone else.” The tax is levied on cocaine, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamines, and other hard drugs. Interestingly, the state collected over $300,000 in such taxes by going after individuals that were charged with criminal activity. This is better known as the “Al Capone Theory,” which is derived from the fact that authorities were able to put away the famous mobster on tax evasion charges. Alas, criminal prosecutors have not always welcomed the illegal drug tax.
Drug Tax Foils Prosecution of Drug Dealers in Texas
The 5th Amendment of the Constitution protects Americans from being punished twice for the same crime. This concept, known as “double jeopardy”, caused prosecutors in 1989 to literally beg the state comptroller’s office to stop accepting tax payments by drug dealers. The reason? A Texas Criminal Court of Appeal ruled that the state law assessing taxes on illegal drugs constituted a “punishment”. As a result, requiring the payment of the tax constituted double jeopardy if the taxpayer had already been charged criminally.
In an attempt to get their clients off on drug charges, criminal attorneys began advising them to rush to pay their drug-related taxes. The theory was that once the taxes were paid, the drug dealer could not be prosecuted because doing so would constitute a second punishment! The appellate court agreed with the theory and the state comptroller immediately stopped collecting the Texas drug tax.
Are you considering paying “taxes” on illegal drugs to avoid prosecution? Time to solve that problem and avoid the “Al Capone theory”!
About the Author
Richard Chapo is a Lawyer, Author, and member of various professional organizations, including the California State Bar and the San Diego County Bar Association. He has also been a guest speaker at various conferences and events, where he shares his insights on legal and business issues facing entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Obtaining tax refunds for small businesses by finding overlooked tax deductions and credits through a free tax return review. Practicing law for over 25 years, Richard is known for his expertise in Internet law, e-commerce, and online business issues.
What is the purpose of the illegal drug tax?
Basically, the illegal drug tax helps generate revenue for the state and deter drug dealers by requiring them to pay taxes on their illegal drug sales.
Can paying the illegal drug tax protect drug dealers from prosecution?
Criminals are not able to avoid being prosecuted by paying the illegal drug tax. However, some drug dealers have attempted to use the “Al Capone theory” to argue that paying the tax constitutes double jeopardy and therefore prevents them from being prosecuted.
How much money has been collected through the illegal drug tax?
The Kansas Department of Revenue reported that state collected over $300,000 through the illegal drug tax by going after individuals charged with criminal activity.
I thought marijuana is legal, do I still need to pay for illegal drug tax?
Under federal law, marijuana is still illegal. However, depending on the state you live in, you might have recreational marijuana in place. If this is the case, you wouild need to find a dispensary, and the tax is automatically collected when you purchase a marijuana product.