Arizona's Cigarette Tax: What's a Decimal Point or Two Between Friends?


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Tax legislation is often messy and complicated. This presents a challenge for those seeking to change state tax systems through ballot initiatives or referenda: how can these complex tax issues be boiled down to a simple and accurate description that voters will be able to read and understand while in the voting booth? Arizona's latest ballot-initiative snafu illustrates this difficulty. Health-care advocates successfully gathered signatures last summer for an 80-cents-per-pack cigarette tax hike... but what appeared on Arizona voters' November ballots was a 0.8 cent tax, which was approved by a 53% majority. This would provide one-one-hundredth of the revenue these advocates sought. The state's Attorney General has ruled, oddly, that the 80-cent tax can be collected anyway, but RJ Reynolds is considering filing a suit to prevent the implementation of this tax hike. Read more about it on the Talking Taxes weblog.

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