Oregon Marijuana Initiative

July 11, 2014 § Leave a comment

I’m on the record saying the tax structure of the marijuana initiative in Oregon is a step forward.

Kopilak said the initiative reflects the work of not only advocates but also national tax experts, including Pat Oglesby, chief tax counsel on the U.S. Senate Finance Committee from 1988 and 1990.

On Oglesby’s advice, New Approach Oregon opted to tax marijuana by weight early in the production process instead of at the retail end. Washington, by comparison, taxes marijuana at three levels, from producer to processor, processor to retailer and retailer to consumer.

I’m not endorsing the rate or level of tax.  I suspect this tax rate, like others, will prove too high at first, too low later.




Colorado recreational and medical marijuana sales rise slowly? UPDATE

July 10, 2014 § 1 Comment

Sales of both recreational and medical marijuana inched up from April to May in Colorado, I THOUGHT.

Colorado marijuana sales                           Recreational                                 Medical
April $22,059,586 $31,718,207
May $22,142,207 $31,976,897

Those figures come simply from dividing the sales tax rate (2.9 percent) into officially reported (on highlighted links below) sales taxes received: « Read the rest of this entry »

Presbyterians blast tax havens and check the box

July 7, 2014 § Leave a comment

In “Tax Justice: A Christian Response to a New Gilded Age,” the Presbyterian General Assembly recently adopted some recommendations for international tax reform.  Here are two key points:

F.            International Corporate Tax Avoidance

1.    With respect to laws, including “transfer pricing” laws (described more fully in the background section), which today facilitate the movement of income by businesses to tax havens, the church should support work that has been begun to cause nations to change laws so that tax avoidance through income-shifting to tax havens is no longer permitted. This is to affirm the direction of charitable and religious organizations and research institutes seeking tax justice, as well as intergovernmental bodies including the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development) and G-20 governments working for greater tax policy coordination. The toleration of today’s porous tax laws by countries around the world reflects a dangerous “race to the bottom” by which countries compete to offer tax favoritism to businesses; the result is to deprive governments, particularly of poor countries that depend especially heavily on revenues from international businesses, of funds needed for urgent social needs. « Read the rest of this entry »

Presbyterians oppose tax break for ministers

July 6, 2014 § Leave a comment

The Tax Code rule giving special treatment to “ministers of the gospel” (really) – exempting their housing from income – has found an opponent in the Presbyterian Church.  Looking at taxation in the context of social justice, the Church calls for a phase-out:

“6. Particular taxes or exclusions from taxes should treat religious organizations equally with charitable and nonprofit organizations; religious organizations should not be singled out for either penalty or privilege except for the exemption of property essential to the core functions of religion.

“7.  Special tax exemptions or burdens for the property and income of ministers or other church employees are inappropriate.  They should be phased out over a period long enough to accommodate the reliance of many churches on existing exemptions.”

Shortfall in Colorado’s 15 percent marijuana tax

July 2, 2014 § Leave a comment

Revenue from the 15 percent “wholesale” excise tax on recreational marijuana was supposed to run about $2 million every month ($13 million for the first six months, January through June 2014).  Instead, for the first four months, under $2 million was collected overall.

I don’t know the underlying assumptions behind that $2 million per month estimate, but four factors – beyond just the error inherent in any estimate – may contribute to the early shortfall: « Read the rest of this entry »

Danger of Sin Taxes  

June 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

Sin may be in the eye of the beholder, but I generally favor sumptuary taxes on alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, gambling, what have you — call them sin taxes.  Still, I have to recognize that opponents have a point when they argue that government may need revenue so much that it promotes “sin.”  Here’s what’s happening with the North Carolina lottery in the Republican controlled N.C. House of Representatives:  “The House plan relies on turbocharging lottery sales by more than 20 percent through increased advertising statewide.”

States May Be Stuck With Second-Best Marijuana Taxes

June 17, 2014 § Leave a comment

States May Be Stuck with Second-Best Marijuana Taxes is an adaptation, published by State Tax Notes for U.S. readers, of ” The Ace in the Game,” which was aimed at non-U.S. readers:

It says (1) taxes are second-best to monopoly, and (2) the ideal tax, based on THC potency, is out of reach.




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