Raise Taxes — Lose Revenue

June 5, 2012 § 4 Comments

The current taxes on a pack of cigarettes in Chicago include $2 from Cook County, 98 cents from Illinois and 68 cents from the city. If Quinn signs the latest increase, the taxes in Chicago will be $4.66 per pack, compared with 99 cents in East Chicago.

On Monday, a pack of Marlboros at a 7-Eleven on North Wells Street in downtown Chicago ran $9.69, before the state tax increase. At a 7-Eleven on Hohman Avenue in Hammond, the same smokes went for $6.20.  …

“The cigarette tax increase passed the Senate last week. Quinn has said the hike is necessary to generate about $350 million for the Medicaid program.  …

In 2006, the Cook County tax doubled to $2 per pack.  …

But even as taxes on cigarettes climbed, the revenue in Cook County dropped. In 2006, the county garnered more than $200 million in cigarette taxes. That number plummeted to $131 million in 2010, according to annual reports.

Let’s stop here for a second and think about that.  In 2006 the Cook County Government DOUBLED the cigarette tax in order to RAISE REVENUE.  What was the result?  Revenue fell by a third!!

Legislators and experts agree some drop-off can be expected as tax increases price people out of the market or alter smoker behavior. The percentage of U.S. adults who smoke declined from nearly 21 percent to 19.3 percent between 2005 and 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  …

So during roughly the same period smokers (albeit nationally) kicked the habit to the tune of 8%.  But Cook County revenue off by 34.5%.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has said he thought most of the revenue dip was due to fraud.

Dart and County Board President Toni Preckwinkle joined forces in September to add more staff to the county’s Revenue Department to investigate fraud claims. Within three weeks, investigators seized more than $353,000 in unstamped cigarettes and imposed more than $400,000 in fines, Dart said.  …

Well Mr. Dart, if your own statement is true then you completely suck at your job.  Your missing $69 million and you find $400,000.  You’ve located 0.58% of the missing money.  Less that one percent.

So what’s really happening here?  We know that the double the tax, yet revenues off by a third, only 8% quit, and Tom Dart can’t find the missing money.  So where’s the money?

Larry DeBoer, professor of agricultural economics at Purdue University, noted that Indiana benefits as taxes spike in neighboring states.”There’s no doubt that commerce goes back and forth across the borders,” DeBoer said. “If Illinois increases its tax by $1, we’ll realize about $10 million more in cigarette tax revenue.”

via Chicago Tribune.

Aaaah.  There’s the money!

In Illinois we’re governed by complete morons.  The Laffer Curve is a real thing.  People will change their behavior to engage in tax avoidance.  In this case is primarily involves not buying cigarettes in the City and County but in the collar counties and in Indiana.

More to the point, wouldn’t you think that when you double the tax and see revenue falling and falling and falling that someone would have stood-up and said, “Maybe we should roll-back that tax before we lose any more money?”  But not in this county.

Stupid Quinn and his ilk are going to keep raising taxes until there’s no one left to tax.

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