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Today the largest increase in the federal tobacco tax of all time is going into effect -- what used to be 39 cents per pack will now be $1.01 per pack. It won't exactly pay the tab of the stimulus package, but it's probably the most palatable to the average Joe.

Typically the easiest way to get a consumer to be in favor of a tax increase is by convincing her or him that someone else will pay it. No one personally wants to pay more in taxes, but if someone else is paying, who really cares? It's even easier to get a consumer to endorse a tax if those paying the tax are made out to be evil villains.

Naughty rich people are often the targets of tax increases. It doesn't matter that they pay an enormously high proportion of the taxes in this country (yes, more than their fair share), they can "afford" more so let's stick it to them.
Sin taxes are popular as well. Many states are looking at large increases in taxes on cigarettes, but our federal government is going to get its (bigger) cut first, with this new assessment.

The tax package comes with other programs as well, including possible legislation to put tobacco under the regulation of the Food and Drug Administration. There will also be an increase in attention to anti-smoking campaigns and quitting incentives.

I think many taxpayers won't feel too bad for smokers, who are only about 20% of the adult population. Why should they? Well they should because tax increases like this don't happen in a vacuum.

Here's my take on it: They are just part of a larger overall strategy to take more and more of our money and use it as our government sees fit. (That's been working out real well, huh?) I think we should all be protesting tax increases of any kind, on any group of people. Our government already takes too much from taxpayers, and it's not going to stop unless we act.

Taxation is a slippery slope and we are sliding down it faster and faster. Soon we will be giving more than half our incomes to the government. Contact your politicians and put pressure on them to stop taxing. Difficult economic times should mean lower taxes for all of us, especially when so many are struggling to find work and pay for basic necessities.

What do you think? Are you for this tax or against it?

Forensic accountant Tracy Coenen investigates corporate fraud and consumer scams, and is the author of Expert Fraud Investigation and Essentials of Corporate Fraud.

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