SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska



Cigarette taxes
By Joan Hurliman


August 04, 2006

One of my senior/disabled residents called me for help regarding a letter she received from the Alaska Tax Revenue Department. It seems this wheelchair bound lady, with a monthly income of $985.00, was being charged $1098.00 for cigarettes she ordered online.

She has extreme difficulty comprending and reading and ask me to explain "what this letter meant". As I read the letter, I almost had a stroke myself. The State has given her 30 days to pay this amount, or it doubles, another 30 days and it doubles again and after that she is threatened with a felony count and jail.

I went to Gov. Murkowski the day he was in Ketchikan, gave him a letter inquiring about this matter and requesting he 'get back to me on this'. Rep. Elkins immediately scheduled an appointment with me the following Monday. Rep Elkins assistant, Jim VanHorn, called within 2 days saying the "Debtor" could arrange to have a 6 month repayment period. This was not stated in her letter, just threats.

As I have discussed this with others, I have found over $30,000 in tax paid to the state of Alaska because of cigarettes. One lady had to sell everything to pay her tax (within 30 days) and is now being subsidized by the state. How much money has the state collected? Where is it going? To my recollection the U.S. Constitution says we don't have a debtor's prision.

Please understand, had this lady been physically able to fly 'south' and bring back cigarettes, there would not have been any taxes. By ordering them (from New York) she is now a criminal, due to "importing". Isn't New York and Alaska both part of the U.S.? Why can we order groceries, clothes and any varity of sundries and not be taxed?

Have any others had this happen? I'm in the phonebook please let us know of your situation, as we are now contacting the ACLU. If they can help pot smokers maybe they can help prevent "Greedy Frankie" from taking anymore.

Joan Hurliman
Ketchikan, AK - USA

About: "20+ years in Ketchikan, an advocate for senior/disabled citizens"



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