April 01, 2004

April Fools?

I assumed that this news story, which I got found via the Illinois Concealed Carry mailing list, was an April Fools joke. I even emailed the reporter to question it, because it seemed so ridiculous. My wee wifey's stepmother is visiting today, and I was able to confirm that it is not a joke.

Effective April Fools Day, the tax on cigarettes in Cook County, Illinois (Chicago and close suburbs) goes from 18 cents a pack to one dollar. Laffer is no doubt laughing. Some people will be inspired to quit smoking, and some revenues may be raised, but the main effect will be to induce massive buttlegging. There is already a considerable business in selling cigarettes just across the state line in Indiana, where the taxes were already lower. Perhaps the owners of these outlets were behind the new legislation.

Chicago and Cook County have long had their own taxes on gasoline. For many years I lived in Chicago and commuted to the suburbs. When I kept track of it, I found that I typically spent $800 per year on gasoline, $15 of it in Chicago when I failed to plan ahead. On one occasion I heard George Gilder on the radio state that "Taxes do not redistribute wealth, they redistribute taxpayers." For a while after I heard this I was inspired to drive a little way out of Cook County and pay even less for my gasoline. I was obviously not alone in this practice, given the number of Chicago gas stations which went out of business. I predict much gnashing of teeth when the same thing happens to convenience stores.

Posted by triticale at April 1, 2004 05:29 PM

It makes me very glad I don't smoke! And you're right, there will be a massive blackmarket going on which means they won't get any revenue at all, someone else will. What wankers.

We've lived in the Chicago area for 23 years now and we've always marvelled at how the gas taxes here are so very outrageous and no one seems to notice. For all those years we've been paying 20-40 cents more per gallon than the people of St. Louis (frequent travel to see family makes it very obvious). Suddenly in 2000 when the gas prices skyrocketed, THEN it was a problem!!! People here are such morons about taxes. I'd love to get out. My husband is currently looking for a job, so maybe...

Posted by: Teresa at April 1, 2004 11:17 PM
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