Commonwealth Journal

Editorials

April 23, 2007

Every Day is Tax Day: Kentucky’s Dope Tax

Ahh ... the sweet aroma of spring! Freshly cut grass. Blossoming flowers. Charcoal grills wafting sweet smoke in neighbors’ yards. And what about those welcome sights – redbuds and pink dogwoods, kids flying kites, manicured red and green baseball fields, new foals and calves dotting shorn fields. Surely there can be no place in heaven as pure and pleasant as a Kentucky spring. Especially after tax day.

Every day thereafter is a little brighter; every meal a little more satisfying, every bird’s song a little more melodious.

But for some Kentuckians, tax day is every day. That’s because a little known provision of our revenue laws require the purchase of tax stamps for illegal drugs. The extra boost that comes from settling our annual accounts with the Internal Revenue Service doesn’t count if you neglect to pay your dope tax.

Kentucky’s drug tax provides for an anonymous tax payment due immediately “upon the occurrence of taxable activity” and precludes the use of that information for criminal prosecutions. Taxable activity includes producing, cultivating, manufacturing, transporting, distributing, storing, selling, possessing or using certain quantities of illegal drugs – marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, or even prescription pills when possessed, transported or distributed contrary to law.

The tax rates are set forth in our statutes: $1,000 for each marijuana plant or $3.50 per gram of processed marijuana, $200 for each gram of controlled substances such as cocaine, and $2,000 for each 50 dosage units of controlled substances which are not sold by weight.

The procedure for procuring the tax stamp is theoretically simple. The taxpayer remits the appropriate sum to the Revenue Cabinet who issues a tax stamp. This procedure is confidential. The tax stamp, which is good for one year, must then be affixed to the illegal drugs.

If law enforcement seizes drugs, and no tax stamp is affixed, the offender can be charged with a class C felony for the tax violation in addition to the substance drug crime. Moreover, the offender must also pay a tax penalty with interest on the seized drugs.

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