29 September 2007

Southbound and Down

Ayn Rand is spinning so fast in her grave that seismometers around the world are getting faint readings. This week the Tennessee Department of Revenue (TDR) announced that they would be monitoring the amounts of cigarettes Tennessee citizens purchases in bordering states.

Current state laws prohibit the transport of more than two cartons into the State without a Tennessee tax stamp. Spokesmen from the TDR warned that transporting 3-24 cartons is a misdemeanor and over 25 is a felony that will carry the penalty of the seizure of your vehicle.

The head of TDR special investigations, David Remke, was quoted in the above Tennessean article as saying, “"It's not fair to them [stores on the Tennessee side of the border] that they've lost a lot of their business"

No Mr. Remke, it’s not fair when the government’s taxation policies make it unattractive to purchase a good or service in one’s home state. Did the brain trust in our legislature not think that there would be a consequence to raising a tax on a specific good? I can postulate that given the actions of the TDR that they did not.

So the answer to making things “fair” in the State of Tennessee is harass citizens who are adhering to the basic principles of capitalism; fining the good they want at the lowest price. By extension of this mentality, it’s not “fair” to a local Barnes and Noble when I purchase a book cheaper on Amazon. The TDR isn’t concerned about that, yet.

Then again, we’re not talking about what’s fair for business in Tennessee at all. The TDR is hiding behind “fairness” to Tennessee businesses because tax revenues on cigarettes in border areas are down. So we spend tax dollars on monitoring the border for Burt Reynolds and Jerry Reed smuggling in 10 cartons of cigarettes in from Kentucky. Your average citizen can now take on the role of the Bandit and Iceman just for buying their smokes in Kentucky.

If you’re thinking that cigarettes will be the end of this, I fear you’re sadly mistaken. If you buy your groceries in Kentucky (where there is no tax on food) and transport them to your Tennessee home, soon you might get a trip to the pokie for bringing too many eggs across the border. Remember, it’s not fair to local businesses that you’re saving 8.25% on your food because of the taxation policies set by your legislature.

Just remember that the TDR is watching you…

1 comment:

Bear said...

I'm with you on this one, bro. The last thing we need is Uncle Volunteer monitoring our transactions. Chalk this one up to bedroom shenanigans with Big Tobacco.