Saturday, October 25, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Is Philly ready to boost cigarette tax enforcement, too?

Scholars say it takes extra cops to charge extra taxes

Is Philly ready to boost cigarette tax enforcement, too?

(Mel Evans / Associated Press)
(Mel Evans / Associated Press)

If Philadelphia really plans to boost alcohol and tobacco taxes, the city had better be ready to spend money on extra tax enforcement, and on busting city residents and visitors who try to buy their smokes outside the city, scholars warn.

The proposal by Phila City Councilman Darrell Clarke, backed by Mayor Michael Nutter, to help fund the city's cash-strapped schools by boosting the drink tax and slapping a $2 a pack tax on cigarettes faces resistance from smokers, drinkers and the people who make money supplying them. See my column in today's Philadelphia Inquirer:

Consumers aren't stupid, and many see nothing wrong with driving a little further to avoid their elected officials' increased demands. Though smuggling also draws criminals and suspected terrorists... See Drexel University Prof. Mark Stehr's work on how consumers cross state lines to avoid taxes. Also similar studies by U of Illinois scholar David Merriman and colleagues on the impact of higher cigarette taxes in Chicago, and New York.


Joseph N. DiStefano
About this blog

PhillyDeals posts raw drafts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area finance, investment, commercial real estate, tech, hiring and public spending, which he's been writing since 1989, mostly for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn, taught writing at St. Joe's, and has written the book Comcasted, more than a thousand columns, and thousands of articles, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com or 215 854 5194.

Joseph N. DiStefano
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