Friday, July 27, 2007

The new cigar tax: House Ways and Means Committee verdict is in, but not all is lost

This morning, I wrote to Norman Sharp at the Cigar Association of America asking for a status report regarding yesterday's House Ways and Means Committee's vote on the SCHIP funding. Here's what Mr. Sharp had to say:

"The House Ways & Means Committee approved the SCHIP funding this morning at 2:00 AM. Events moved very quickly. Although the rate for large cigars will be 44.63% with a cap of $1 per cigar, we believe there still might be room for changes."

With regard to the floor tax, which is of the utmost concern for every brick & mortar cigar store and online retailer: "The House version assesses a floor stocks tax on cigarettes only -- as was the case with the tobacco tax increases in 2000 and 2002. The Senate version would assess the floor stocks tax on all tobacco products."

In other anti-SCHIP funding legislation news, here are some other items of interest, especially if you haven't been following the story as closely:

Rocky Patel, who has been among the most vocal about the SCHIP matter, can be seen making the case for the manufacturers in two online videos. The first, at YouTube.com titled, "Facts On The New Tobacco Tax," shows Rocky explaining the ramifications of the funding if it goes through all the way.

There is also a story and an accompanying video on the legislation story with Rocky at NBC-2.com, the NBC News affiliate in Ft. Myers, FL titled, "20,000-percent tax increase on cigars?"

Another good read, titled "Some Senators Get It," appeared earlier this week at Cigarcyclopedia.com, in which U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) said, "I fully support initiatives that increase Americans' access to affordable health care. But, I believe Congress should not rely on budgetary gimmicks or tax increases. Instead, Congress should focus on eliminating wasteful government spending."

If you'd like to raise your voice, you can write to the House Ways and Means Committee members from your state, or contact your Senators, who will soon be addressing their version of the bill.

Finally, I'm told that "snail mail" is more effective than email, since all letters are opened and read, whereas emails can easily be deleted.

~G.K.

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