Is a crack tax the way to make dealers pay?
By: CJ Cassidy
By: CJ Cassidy
How would you feel about taxing drug dealers on illegal substances?
Several states including Kentucky and Tennessee actually impose such a tax, but now lawmakers question the constitutionality of that tax in Tennessee, after one drug dealer was asked to cough up more than a million dollars on top of his criminal charges.
It's been dubbed a crack tax, and here's how it works: dealers actually need to pay their taxes based on how much illegal drugs or alcohol they have and pick up a stamp.
Police say it's another way of making drug dealers pay - but others wonder if it all just goes to show that crime does pay?
"It's a business, why shouldn't it be taxed like any other business?" Asst. Chief Perry Barfield of the Union City Police Department says.
Most lawmakers in Kentucky and Tennessee agree, so drug dealers in those states are expected to volunteer information about their illegal trade.
They would need to fill out one of these forms and hand it over to the Department of Revenue, which would in turn give them a stamp.
"I can't imagine they'd take that chance of being identified but due to privacy laws the Department of Revenue we cannot divulge information law enforcement," Barfield says.
You think that's strange? Listen to this: If a dealer finds himself without a stamp attached to his illegal products, he's in even bigger trouble with the law because now he has to pay a penalty on top of everything else.
"It's kind of funny to them. They can't believe there's a tax on it either," Barfield points out.
Still, it's a serious money maker. So far Tennessee's cashed in on more than $3.5 million in the past two years since the tax went into effect.
"The state takes a 25% cut of the tax which goes into general fund they return 75% of the tax to the agency that investigates it," police say.
"If they make them pay a big enough fine keep on them they might get the hint it's not wanted here, because kids are influenced by this," Angie Evans of Union City says.
But others call it dirty money, and question the ethics of dealing with dealers.
"It's a way to legalize drugs in my opinion. It makes it legal or it's a way for drug dealers to go ahead and do their thing and try to pay money on it," Union City resident Russ Thomas says.
The tax is primarily applied on big time dealers who have a lot of assets.
Kentucky started enforcing the law back in 1994, and last year they brought in $100,000 s through the tax.