- Days left

Middle East terrorism: Now fueled by nicotine

Emphysema, heart disease, lung cancer, necrosis, crib death, bad smells...smoking has been accused of causing an almost endless list of problems. Recently, however, New York's outrageous taxes have added a fresh one: funding terrorism.

Because of recent tax increases, cigarettes currently cost approximately $9 a pack in New York city. On the other hand, they cost roughly $3 a pack when purchased at Indian reservations on Long Island. For years, New Yorkers have used reservations to help fund their habits by purchasing cartons of cigarettes, either in person or via the internet. The recent tax hike, however, has made cigarette smuggling an easy and relatively safe way to make a lot of money.

According to a recent report, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms is currently investigating over 300 smuggling rings that are purchasing cigarettes from Indian reservations or southern states with lower taxes and reselling them in New York City. Some of these smugglers supposedly have links to Hamas, Hezbollah, and Al Qaeda.

In an opinion piece in the New York Post, Congressman Peter King (R-NY) cited the case of cigarette smuggler Mohamad Hammoud, who allegedly made $8 million from 2000-2002 and donated $100,000 to Hezbollah. Congressman King noted that the operational cost of the 9/11 airstrikes was approximately $500,000, a sum that could be generated with only a few cigarette runs. Of course, from the perspective of international terrorists, this is a win/win situation: if the Camels don't get ya, the fundamentalists will.

While I'm sure that cigarettes will end up bearing the brunt of outrage over this issue, it might be a good idea to look beyond the obvious. Congressman King is calling for a repeal of the "forebearance" that allows Indian reservations to sell cigarettes without charging tax. As a student of history, I feel like we've cheated the Indians enough, but I agree that something must be done about this. May I humbly suggest that we stop using cigarette taxes as a way of dictating our health policy, try to treat smokers like humans and, perhaps, find another way of filling our public coffers?

Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. As a former smoker, he doesn't like the smell of cigarettes, but tries to not be a jerk about it!

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Banking Services 101

Understand your bank's services, and how to get the most from them

View Course »

Goal Setting

Want to succeed? Then you need goals!

View Course »

TurboTax Articles

Cities with the Lowest Tax Rates

The total amount of tax you pay reaches far beyond what you owe the federal government. Depending on where you live, most likely you're required to pay additional taxes, including property and sales tax. The disparity between the amount of tax you pay in a low-tax city and that in a high-tax city can be dramatic. Living in any of these 10 cities could save you a bundle, although the exact amount may fluctuate based on your income and lifestyle choices.

Cities with the Highest Tax Rates

Much ado is made in the press about federal tax brackets, but cities can carry a tax bite of their own. Even if you live in a state that has no income tax, your city may levy a variety of taxes that could eat away the entire benefit of living in an income tax-free state, including property taxes, sales taxes and auto taxes. Consider all the costs before you move to one of these cities, and understand that rates may change based on your family's income level.

Great Ways to Get Charitable Tax Deductions

Generally, when you give money to a charity, you can use the amount of that donation as a deduction on your tax return. However, not all charities qualify as tax-deductible organizations. While there are many types of charities, they must all meet certain criteria to be classified by the IRS as tax-deductible organizations. There are legitimate tax-deductible organizations in many popular categories, such as those listed below.

A Freelancer's Guide to Taxes

Freelancing certainly has its benefits, but it can result in a few complications come tax time. The Internal Revenue Service considers freelancers to be self-employed, so if you earn income as a freelancer you must file your taxes as a business owner. While you can take additional deductions if you are self-employed, you'll also face additional taxes in the form of the self-employment tax. Here are things to consider as a freelancer when filing your taxes.

Tax Deductions for Voluntary Interest Payments on Student Loans

Most taxpayers who pay interest on student loans can take a tax deduction for the expense ? and you can do this regardless of whether you itemize tax deductions on your return. The rules for claiming the deduction are the same whether the interest payments were required or voluntary.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum