Editorial: Close tobacco tax loophole for Seminole Tribe
"The Florida Senate is expected to vote this week on a $1 cigarette tax increase, which the bill's sponsors insist on calling a "surcharge." It also would impose new taxes on snuff, chewing tobacco and mini-cigars.

The proposal is something of a policy mess. But it's a policy mess with two things going for it.

Tax-exempt cigarettes sold on Indian reservations are another loophole. The Senate proposal would close it by allowing the Seminoles and Miccosukees to sell tax-exempt "Indian cigarettes" only to tribe members. Non-tribe members caught with "Indian cigarettes" would pay a $1,000 fine. Good luck enforcing that.

The law would allow the tribes to sell Indian cigarettes to non-Indians if the tribes agree to collect the $1 surcharge and pay it to the state. Tribes still would have a price advantage because of exemptions from other tobacco taxes.

There are more progressive, stable ways to raise money. But lawmakers haven't been willing to end sales tax exemptions or to collect sales tax already due on Internet and catalog sales. Under former Gov. Jeb Bush, the state also eliminated the intangibles tax on non-retirement fund stocks and bonds. That primarily affected Florida's wealthiest residents. Wouldn't it be fairer to couple a regressive cigarette tax with renewal of the intangibles tax?"

Get the Story:
EDITORIAL: Raise messy tobacco tax (The Palm Beach Post 4/16)

Related Stories:
Bill seeks to force Seminole tobacco tax issue (4/8)