Cigarette Tax (2012)

The following statement is reprinted from the September-October Missouri Voter.

LWVMO supports Proposition B on the November 2012 ballot, commonly referred to as the cigarette tax increase, based on existing League Positions.

The League acknowledges the need for more state revenue especially for education. A sales tax is acceptable as part of that mix. However, any growth in expenditures should be place in state statues, not the constitution, and this ballot issues is a statutory change. The tax mix should clearly demonstrate a combination of ability to pay and benefits received. In this case, the tax can be considered voluntary because no one is forced to smoke.

Although the League historically has opposed earmarked taxes, primarily because they skew our goal of a balanced and progressive tax system which we believe should come from a state general fund, the position does say that the use of earmarked funds should be limited and viewed with caution. In this case an argument could be made that the present financial situation in the state requires these extra revenues and that the provisions set limits for how they can be used. Further, our position says if the state needs additional revenue it could be derived by repealing the exemption of certain sales, which if included in the entire
tax base, would increase the equity, productivity and efficiency of the sales tax. The very low present tax on cigarettes is a sales tax exemption compared to other states with much higher cigarette taxes.

The tax meets many of our criteria. It is easy to understand, difficult to evade, and easy to enforce, easy to collect. The effect of the tax structure on business and individuals should be consistent with the economic and social aims of the state. There is a clear need for more revenue for education and health education.

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