Friday, July 24, 2009

TN Supreme Ct says Crack Tax is Unconstitutional

Basically, the majority said that illegal drugs are not subject to taxation under the state constitution, which authorizes taxes on "merchants, peddlers and privileges." The tax is on possession, they reasoned, not sales so the possessors are not merchants or peddlers. And since possession of the products in question is outlawed, it's not a legal privilege subject to taxation.

The majority did reject arguments that the law violates the U.S. Constitution's provisions against self-incrimination and double jeopardy. In theory, that means the Legislature could revise the law - as in making the tax apply to sales of the drugs - and the statute could pass legal muster.