Badger Blog Alliance

Sic Semper Tyrannis

Monday, May 12, 2008

Re: Wisconsin trying to collect cigarette tax

I've been noodling over Lance's numbers.

They didn't seem right, so I did some homework. Here's what I've come up with:

Number of Wisconsinites: 5,509,026 (it's wiki, but close enough)
Percentage of smokers: 21% (there are a lot of liars out there, but this'll do)
Smoking tax per pack: $1.77 (how long till they raise it again?)
Average packs per day: 1.5 (my guesstimate, should be low)

Tax take:

1,156,895 = total smokers
1,735,342 = packs per day
3,071,555 = dollar tax take per day
$1,121,117,699 = annual tax take conservative guesstimate

Wait - didn't the article say they expect to raise $523 million? I've checked my math several times...

Something doesn't add up here, and I suspect it has little to do with my math or Internet smokes purveyors.

But that's not even the best part. State Revenue Secretary Roger Ervin is more concerned about "jeopardiz[ing] relationships with those vendors" than upholding the law.

The feeling isn't mutual:

...some Wisconsin residents got an ad in the mail last week from an online vendor associated with the Seneca Indian Nation, offering a 10-pack carton of Skydancer cigarettes over the Internet for $12.99 - about $5 less than the Wisconsin taxes owed on it.

Another Internet cigarette vendor,, tells potential customers it won't cooperate with federal or state tax collectors under any circumstances: "IMPORTANT: We have never and do not report any information about our customers to any authorities. We guarantee your safety while shopping with us and will uphold our promise in keeping your information 100% confidential."