August 21, 2014

Proposal would make dealers pay taxes on illegal drugs, alcohol

An incoming state legislator is proposing another way for Missouri drug dealers to pay for their crimes. The proposal from Barnhart representative-elect Jeff Roorda would require the sellers of illegal drugs and alcohols to pay taxes on them.

Representative-elect Jeff Roorda (D-Barnhart)

He says those products are taxable just like anything else.

“This is aimed at punishing drug dealers but the legal theory dates back to the prohibition days and moonshine days. The government has the authority to tax both legal and illegal enterprise.”

Under the bill, when law enforcement makes an arrest or seizure and finds any product for which the tax has not been paid, the dealer would face the penalties for not paying back taxes.

Roorda thinks hitting dealers in the pocketbook would be a good deterrent.

“I think they slap a tax lien on the big screen TV in these crooks’ living room and the Corvette in the driveway and that’s how they end up collecting. These guys, most of them, are junkies as well as drug dealers and they burn through their cash pretty quick.”

Roorda’s bill would require the Department of Revenue to issue stamps that dealers could put on illegal substances to show the tax on them had been paid. Roorda notes, dealers can buy those stamps without fear or arrest.

“There’s no requirement that you give a name when you purchase a tax stamp or identify yourself in any way. Furthermore, the Department of Revenue can’t legally share that information with law enforcement without a court order.”

Such a program already exists in other states, including Kansas, Tennessee and South Carolina.

Roorda’s proposal would have the proceeds of the tax go to pay for the investigation of drug-related crimes, and create a commission to review the rates of the tax and make recommendations to the general assembly.

Roorda has a background in law enforcement, having worked as an undercover drug detective in Jefferson County.