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Drug Tax Collectors To Make The Rounds
06-14-2007, 11:32 PM,
Drug Tax Collectors To Make The Rounds
Another front in the War on Drugs....

Quote:Drug tax collectors to make the rounds
Concertgoers with illegal substances face fines, arrests

Staff Writer

Among the hippies, rockers, free spirits and other Bonnaroo revelers partying in Manchester today will be a less likely festival figure: the taxman.

In an example of Tennessee's controversial drug tax in action, state revenue agents plan to collect fees on the illegal substances that some concertgoers bring for personal use and sale.

It's not an effort to curb drug use — for some, a Bonnaroo tradition that has sent tens to the hospital and a few to the morgue — but to make sure state and local authorities recoup drug enforcement costs.

For an ounce and a half of marijuana, just above the limit for a misdemeanor drug charge, the tax amounts to about $165, said Al Laney, director of tax enforcement for the state revenue department.

"Naturally, these people will be arrested and their assets will be confiscated," Laney said. "We assess a person while they're under arrest and seize any assets that law enforcement may want to turn over to us."

The state tax on felony amounts of drugs — rates vary by substance — started in January 2005 and has sparked an ongoing legal battle over the fairness and legality of the fee.

State agents have collected $5.4 million so far, with an untold portion of that coming from their efforts at Bonnaroo, the only event in the state manned by tax agents.

147 arrested in 2006

Between 30 and 40 concertgoers in 2005 faced taxes and fines, estimated Laney, who could not provide exact statistics.

Coffee County sheriff's officers, who help inspect vehicles entering the concert grounds, arrested 147 people in 2006, many on drug charges. More than 200 were cited, Sheriff Stephen Graves said.

One of those was retired law professor Thomas Schornhorst's 17-year-old grandson from Alabama, who was stopped on the way into the show with a bag of plant material.

Tax agents took the $200 the youth had on him, told him he owed more than $5,000 and threatened to confiscate the truck he rode in on, his grandfather says.

Lab tests later showed that the bag contained no illegal substances and the fines were dropped. Still, Schornhorst bristled at what he says is the state's disregard for due process.

"They're just taking money from people on the spot knowing that these people won't be able to find lawyers to challenge them," Schornhorst said.

A revenue department spokeswoman confirmed that agents have confiscated vehicles in the past when dealing with large amounts of drugs or people from out of state.

Stamps not popular

When not working Bonnaroo, agents team up with law enforcement on drug busts or assess taxes by mail on arrestees regardless of whether they're convicted.

State officials placed a tax lien on the home of Williamson County Sheriff Ricky Headley this year after he was arrested on charges of illegally buying thousands of prescription drugs.

Drug carriers can buy stamps anonymously from the revenue department in Nashville. Tax officials are prohibited by law from disclosing the information to law enforcement authorities.

The stamps, when affixed to bags of drugs, prove to the state that the possessor has already paid taxes.

The program hasn't been popular, Laney said.

So far no drugs confiscated by police have carried the markers, and some speculate that the small number of stamps sold in Tennessee have gone to collectors, he said.

Twenty-five states levy similar fees on illicit drugs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. And in many cases — as in Tennessee — those fees have faced court challenges.

Knoxville lawyer Rick Holcomb defended a man convicted of federal drug conspiracy charges. Holcomb says the taxes are a thinly veiled punishment assessed on top of criminal punishment, breaking constitutional prohibitions against double jeopardy.

Assessing drug taxes at Bonnaroo is problematic, he said.

"There's a certain time allotted in which you should be able to stay the actual collection of the tax," Holcomb said. "Targeting Bonnaroo is particularly egregious because they're … taking your money right there."

I can say that there is a spin on this one. "Tens" of folks to the hospital. Oooooooo Cause it's 94 F outside and they are drinking, maybe?!??!? I saw 1 guy....1...pass out. Event staff was there inside of 15 seconds to see if he was all right. I shit you *POOOF* they were there to help him out. He got up and drank some water and was on his way. I've never seen any agents for TPTB exhibit even a tenth of the quality of assistance or care those guys gave. :love:

A few died...Yes it was 3 in the 5 years of the concert and only 2 of those even had drugs in their systems.
So, of course we need to shake down the hippies and jam band lovers for some cash and stash. Measured in a 2005 study, the economic impact of the event on Coffee County was more than $14 million in business revenues and more than $4 million in personal income. The county and the city of Manchester made out, so now the State has to get in on the money. Just like corrupt officials. Fuck them hard....

According to TN Tax laws, paying the tax does not allow you to posses the illicit substances. You will still be prosecuted for possession of illegal substances. If you haven't paid the tax before hand, you will be charged with tax evasion in addition to possession.

Nice little racket, huh?
“Today’s scientists have substituted mathematics for experiments, and they wander off through equation after
equation, and eventually build a structure which has no relation to reality. ” -Nikola Tesla

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace." -Jimi Hendrix
06-16-2007, 03:28 PM,
Drug Tax Collectors To Make The Rounds
Yeah that's pretty cool you can pay a ton of money & drive out the way out there to get arrested. Sounds like a good deal. I'm so glad we have a loving parental figure in the government to look after us.
[Image: paulbanneroc1.gif]

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