TAX STAMPS ON ILLEGAL DRUGS NOT POPULAR
CHATTANOOGA - Tennessee's 2-month-old tax on illegal drugs has generated about $100,000 of $5 million assessed by state revenue officials. As expected, the tax stamps are not big sellers.
In fact, officials said nobody involved with illegal drugs or unstamped liquor has taken time to get the required stamps on packages used for their products.
=09 "We haven't had anybody to date," said Al Laney, director of revenue enforcement in the Tennessee Department of Revenue. "To tell you the truth, we don't expect anybody to (ask for a stamp). But we have to afford the taxpayer the opportunity to voluntarily pay."
He said if the stamps are "affixed to drug packaging, the department will not come out and assess you a tax."
Laney said the state has assessed about $5 million and collected about $100,000 since Jan. 4. The investigating agency in a case gets 75 percent of the tax collected.
He said people involved with illegal drugs have no reason to worry about being turned in if they buy the stamps. He said buyers are not asked their names, just what kind of drugs are involved.
"It becomes confidential taxpayer information," Laney said. "By law we cannot divulge any information."
Laney said Tennessee's Unauthorized Substance Tax, levied per gram, is $3.50 on marijuana, $200 on methamphetamine and $50 on cocaine.
Sequatchie County Sheriff Ronnie Hitchcock said his office is in line to get $4,200 from a marijuana bust.
"If you have drugs, the dealer is supposed to have a stamp from the state affixed to it," Hitchcock said. "He didn't."
In McMinn County, deputies and Drug Enforcement Administration agents arrested two New York men after finding 8 kilograms of cocaine in their car on Interstate 75. Officials said the street value of the cocaine is about $800,000, so the potential tax liability is $400,000.