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Cigarette tax revenues skyrocket 150 percent above July 2012

Monday, Aug 5, 2013

* From a June, 2013 report by the generally anti-tax Heartland Institute

Cigarette tax revenue in Illinois is falling far short of the amount projected last year, state officials say.

In May of 2012, state legislators approved a $1-per-pack increase on the price of cigarettes, nearly doubling the state’s tax rate to $1.98 per pack, the 17th-highest state tax rate in the nation. However, the tax delivered only $212 million of the expected $350 million for the fiscal year ended June 30.

Governor Pat Quinn (D) said the cigarette tax increase would help sustain the state’s Medicaid program, as well as the School Infrastructure Fund, while also discouraging smoking. But The Heartland Institute, Illinois Policy Institute and other public policy groups predicted the state would fail to receive the projected increase in tax revenue. They noted the likelihood that consumers would try to avoid the tax by buying cigarettes out of state, where taxes are lower.

* Also from June, we have this from the Illinois Policy Institute

Remember when the state of Illinois said its new $1 cigarette tax would bring in $350 million in additional revenue?

Unless this tax garners an additional $138 million in the next 10 days, these lofty projections are about to crash and burn.

The cigarette tax hike, which took effect a year ago this month, is only on track to bring in $212 million in revenue for the current fiscal year that ends June 30, according to a report from the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, or COGFA.

* The AP explained the shortfall in June

There’s typically a decline in cigarette sales after a tax increase, as some people stock up before the rate hike, while others use it as a chance to stop smoking.

“This tax was discussed and talked about quite some time before it actually went into effect, so individuals went out and purchased in bulk a bunch of cigarettes, so more of those packs were sold under the lowered tax rate,” said Jim Muschinske, the commission’s revenue manager.

Total cigarette tax revenue for the year is expected to reach almost $788 million, up 37 percent from the previous year. The money from the cigarette tax is used for the state’s general fund, Medicaid program and School Infrastructure Fund.

* Well, the July revenue report from the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability was released this morning. COGFA reports that cigarette tax revenue last month was up 150 percent over July of 2012. From the report

While cigarette tax posted an $18 million increase, the gain was due to last July’s falloff related to the “stockpiling” effect of that year’s rate increase. This year, cigarette taxes to the general funds returned to statutory levels.

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

41 Comments
  1. - RonOglesby - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 9:37 am:

    Well whether it be a tax or a price increase from a manufacturer of an product, when the price goes up you generally see less of that item purchased. Of course the price has to be significant enough to notice transaction to transaction.

    If you phased it in (9 cents a month over a year) your pack may only be 9 cents more on monday than it was last friday. Do you notice? maybe. But not enough to stop you.

    But adding a buck? people will buy them over the border (think of our metro areas that are within 15-20 minutes of a state line, just buy 2 or 3 packs next time you are there) or they will use them as an excuse to cut back or quit. That is one of the justifications used to increase smoking taxes.


  2. - Rich Miller - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 9:41 am:

    ===when the price goes up you generally see less of that item purchased.===

    === COGFA reports that cigarette tax revenue last month was up 150 percent over July of 2012. ===


  3. - RonOglesby - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 9:49 am:

    @ Rich,

    ok so where is the shortfall? If you do not think I making up basic economic premises that as price increases sales of an item reduce then where did the shortfall come from while at the same time posting a 150% increase?

    I mean I expect when they basically doubled the tax and used the over simplified assumption that it would have no effect on sales numbers they should have see a 100% increase. Are we saying that cigarette sales went up after the increase AND yet their projections were they didn’t go up enough…


  4. - Rich Miller - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 9:53 am:

    ===ok so where is the shortfall? ===

    For crying out loud, read the post.

    Also, the Dept. of Revenue was so concerned about radical tax stamp stockpiling by retailers that it tried to halt the practice but was rebuffed by a court. Retailers and consumers both stockpiled. Those stockpiles ran out. Revenues are back up.


  5. - wordslinger - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 10:01 am:

    –Well whether it be a tax or a price increase from a manufacturer of an product, when the price goes up you generally see less of that item purchased.–

    Huh? In classic supply and demand, prices rise to meet the demand. The greater the demand, the higher the price you can command.


  6. - RonOglesby - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 10:02 am:

    @Rich,

    ok, I did, twice. on one hand there is a shortfall, then you tell me there isnt and I follow to see a bumb in july. I say the shortfall is because of changes in behavior yet you reply to that with how there is a 150% increase… but that is of one month.

    Guess I cant see why we are arguing other than the fact that you didnt like me pointing out that a drastic change in price modifies behavior and tax projections never seem to account for that.


  7. - Downstater - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 10:02 am:

    Sounds like the legislators should quadruple the tax. Add in more gambling and taxing medical marijuana sales. let’s add in soda tax increase and liquor tax increase. Could solve all the state’s financial problems.


  8. - Cook County Commoner - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 10:03 am:

    ===when the price goes up you generally see less of that item purchased.===

    I’m not so sure that theory holds for addictive substances. And one year seems to be too short a period to realize predictable tax collections. I’m seeing a few folks selling tobacco products purchased out of state. I suspect the trend to search out such bargains will increase as tobacco consumers experience financial pressures from other areas. And small entrepreneurs will step in to provide more reasonably price product if the demand is there.


  9. - Rich Miller - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 10:08 am:

    ===but that is of one month.===

    Again, read the post.

    ===This year, cigarette taxes to the general funds returned to statutory levels.===

    Your ideology is particularly blinding on this one.


  10. - RonOglesby - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 10:09 am:

    @Cook county commoner
    Check wisconsin after their $1 dollar a pack increase last time. And checking the studies about increased taxes shows a decrease in usage: http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/11/suppl_1/i62.full

    And 30 years of data shown here show that the larger the increase the bigger negative impact (or positive if you are the one that quits) on purchasing of smokes: http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.82.1.94


  11. - PublicServant - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 10:10 am:

    So, COGFA’s revenue estimates look like they’re on target, and Heartland and IPI tell, on a good day, at best, half-truths that continue to rope in the gullible.


  12. - RonOglesby - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 10:11 am:

    @Rich,
    please just follow my links. I know you and I do not ideological agree, but I am arguing data and stats since 1955. And even recent shortfalls seen in other neighboring states.


  13. - wordslinger - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 10:13 am:

    –Guess I cant see why we are arguing other than the fact that you didnt like me pointing out that a drastic change in price modifies behavior and tax projections never seem to account for that.–

    Historically, COGFA’s record on revenue projections is spot-on.


  14. - Jeff Trigg - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 10:14 am:

    == the tax delivered only $212 million of the expected $350 million for the fiscal year ended June 30.==

    Who made that mistake and why do they still have government jobs? Don’t forget about the federal matching dollars they lost last year also. They projected $700 million in new revenue, but only got $424 million. Only off by $276 million.

    And we’re supposed to be impressed that this July was better than last July? Last July was the lowest month because that was the month the tax hike went into effect and retailers bought their tax stamps in June. So of course this July would be higher, its apples and oranges because of the environment.

    In 2004, total tobacco tax revenues were at $760 million, before the Cook/Chicago tax hikes. In 2006, it went down to $640 million because of those tax hikes. Last year they were $788 million and I bet this year they will be back below $760 million again, following the trend from 2004 to 2006.

    At $1/pack tax in 2004, around 760 million packs were sold. In 2012 at $2/pack tax, roughly 394 million packs were sold. Not exact but close enough. That paints a better picture than a one month “skyrocketing” report.

    All those retailers who lost sales, and their employees are thankful, I’m sure. Retailers mostly just tacked on a few more cents to the milk and bread prices for non-smokers to help make up for the lost cigarette sales, which is just wonderful for poor people.


  15. - 47th Ward - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 10:19 am:

    Sometimes a tax hike is about something other than generating more revenue. Generally speaking, you tax things you want less of, like say, pollution.

    There are other state benefits to raising cigarette taxes beyond the revenue it would bring in. Savings on Medicaid in 20 years is a really good example.

    Whether hiking cigarette taxes results in less revenue isn’t really the entire point. If it results in fewer smokers, the state still wins.


  16. - Mark Peysakhovich - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 10:24 am:

    The whole “they’ll go accross the border to buy smokes” theory is a myth. Hardly anyone sustains such behavior. How do I know? Well, most people, including me, will pay a $2 “convenience” fee at a cash machine rather than taking 5 minutes to go to the bank. And most people will stop and buy milk at a “convenience” store while heading home rather than going another mile down the road to buy it $1 or more cheaper at Walmart. It always amazes me when convenience store owners start saying people will go to Indiana to buy cigs. But convenience stores — where everything is generally most expensive — are a living testament that the opposite is true. Sure, people may drive and stock up initially, but it doesn’t last….


  17. - Anon - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 10:24 am:

    Since the new hikes, I make my own. Use an injector machine that creates perfectly filtered smokes. Looks just like the real ones and tastes better to.

    Tobacco comes from out of state, and I pay the equivalent of $1 a pack.


  18. - RonOglesby - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 10:25 am:

    @47th

    Sometimes a tax hike is about something other than generating more revenue. Generally speaking, you tax things you want less of, like say, pollution.

    I COMPLETELY AGREE. BUT, when the revenue and volume of that product being sold reduces, we shouldn’t be surprised. If its really about modifying behavior, then its a success, correct?

    I say this as a some time user of smokeless tobacco. I dont use enough for a price to bother me. BUT habitual users we are impacting may reduce consumption and if we believe it does, that also means we KNOW that raising a prices reduces the items usage. if we are really successful at reducing smoking the actual dollars from that revenue stream will be reduced, thus we can’t have it both ways. Success in reducing a bad behavior AND success in meeting revenue predictions unless we predict low and count on a decrease in consumption.


  19. - Fed up - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 10:26 am:

    Looks like the states revenue estimates were way off for the first year. The first month of year two of the tax increase shows that if the tax level stays the same they will meet the projections.


  20. - Chris - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 10:31 am:

    Jeebus people. COGFA predicted $350m in annual revenue from the new tax; July-2013 produced $30m in monthly revenue from the new tax (as that line-item is *only* for the ‘new’ tax). 30*12 is pretty darn close to $350, so it appears likely (tho hardly certain) that the FY-14 total will be in the ballpark of the estimate, after a year of phase-in from the gaming of the tax-stamps at the end of FY-12.


  21. - Jeff Trigg - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 10:36 am:

    ==Savings on Medicaid in 20 years is a really good example.==

    No its not, because it isn’t true. Non-smokers live longer and use more Medicaid services/dollars.

    ==Increasing the federal excise tax on cigarettes by 50 cents per pack eventually would increase Medicare and Social Security spending, because smokers would be healthier and live longer, according to a Congressional Budget Office report released Wednesday,…==


  22. - Rich Miller - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 10:36 am:

    Chris, you may eventually learn that some folks will take their ideology over actual facts any day.


  23. - Jeff Trigg - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 10:50 am:

    Its ideology that says smokers cost us more in Medicaid, Medicare, SS etc. when the facts, as reported by the Congressional Budget Office with help from MIT, prove that is a myth.

    As for using the apples and oranges comparison from last July to this July, let’s see what the facts are in 6 months and a year because using a one month sample is what ideologues do, not serious statisticians.


  24. - 47th Ward - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 10:55 am:

    ===Its ideology that says smokers cost us more in Medicaid, Medicare, SS etc. when the facts, as reported by the Congressional Budget Office with help from MIT, prove that is a myth.===

    Can you please post the link? I can see how smoking produces savings for SS and Medicare because long-time smokers generally die before they earn a lot of benefits. But Medicaid? Really?


  25. - Anonner - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 11:04 am:

    Now can we PLEASE tax sugary soft drinks?


  26. - langhorne - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 11:13 am:

    Mark P, nice discussion points, but bootlegging is real, and has an effect. go into bars in central illinois, and if you are trusted, you can place an order for your brand by the carton, at a steep discount. cigs are the only bootleg product that is the same quality, unlike purses, watches, jeans, etc.

    it is self delusional to increase taxes in order to stunt consumption, yet use it as a basis for funding a program expected to increase.


  27. - Steve - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 11:17 am:

    It appears price elasticity yet to kick in: which will only encourage Illinois politicians to raise cigarette taxes even higher. Pat Quinn: fighter for taxing the working class smoker.


  28. - Anonymous - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 11:30 am:

    Timing is everything.

    Reminds me of the Chicago Police touting their dramatic improvement of 9-1-1 response times a while back.

    Of course what they did not tell you was that they were comparing the response times to the prior years snow storm where hundreds of cars were stranded on Lake Shore Drive calling in to be rescued.

    What short memory people have…and the laziness to perform fact checking is amazing.

    Nevertheless, they could double the tax again and it would come no-where close to funding the medical care that will be needed to treat these smokers in the near future.

    On a side note. Medical marihuana, what’s the taxes on that going to be?


  29. - Mark Peysakhovich - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 11:30 am:

    @ langhorne == but bootlegging is real, and has an effect==

    Bootlegging is always a problem (yet is a tiny slice of the entire pie) which is why my comments are about individual consumer behavior. But the public health nanny state loving pinko commies will still take the tax increases.

    As for === self delusional to increase taxes in order to stunt consumption, yet use it as a basis for funding a program expected to increase ===

    Yes, but I’ll take the tax hike on cigs even if the GA spends it on a golden statue to Blago…. Self delusional to smoke, isn’t it?


  30. - ChrisB - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 11:34 am:

    I still find it odd that we’re both legalizing Marijuana (which I’m for, btw) and taxing the hell out of smoking to get people to stop “for the health benefits.” Just seems like a paradox that doesn’t jive in my head.

    Also, Mark P, head down to the South Burbs (like Chicago Heights or Steger) or the Indiana border (stop by Three Floyds while you’re at it), and check out the number of C-stores named “No Cook County Tax” or something similar. There are a ton of them. Hell, I used to drive to Indiana to fill my gas tank when there was a huge disparity between gas prices in IL and IN. 50 cents on a 40 gallon tank is pretty huge savings. The key is the difference and whether it’s worth your time.


  31. - Rich Miller - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 11:40 am:

    === Just seems like a paradox===

    Perhaps because you’re less than well informed.


  32. - A Modest Proposal - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 11:55 am:

    Mike P.

    “The whole “they’ll go accross the border to buy smokes” theory is a myth. Hardly anyone sustains such behavior. How do I know? ”

    I live in cook county, and I don’t smoke, but cook does have higher gas prices.

    I do a lot of traveling around the state, and in the past 5 years I have not went to a cook county gas station once.

    Yes I travel more than most people, but because of higher prices, cook county has not seen one cent of money that it would have generated from my wallet.

    I do not specifically travel to get gas, but I do get gas when I travel. I imagine Illinois is losing money on those people who get cigarettes when they travel, rather than the people who are traveling to get cigarettes.


  33. - Jeff Trigg - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 11:56 am:

    47th, you are right, they didn’t study state’s Medicaid. ( CBO cigarette tax - Google) Someone should. Medicare provides for more older people as Medicaid provides for those not yet of age to use Medicare, such as the $1 billion Medicaid spends to cover the cost of child births in IL. It makes sense that if Medicare doesn’t increase, neither will Medicaid because of the age factor. I bet there are states that have had high cigarette taxes for 20 years now. It would be interesting to see if smokers are costing more than the revenues they’ve provided.

    What facts do we know? Smokers provided about $788 million in state tax revenue last year. Plus state MSA money and the Feds take their cut. Did Illinois’ Medicaid spend $788+ million to pay to treat smoking related illnesses last year? I don’t know, but I highly doubt it.

    Then you must ask, how much are overweight and out of shape people costing the state for Medicaid, and why aren’t they being punished like smokers? Social engineering can go to far and have unintended consequences.

    I’d like to see different facts being provided other than statutory levels or 150% increase. How many packs have been sold each month for the past decade? That’ll help explain why July 2012 was a statistical anomaly making it hard to compare to July 2013.


  34. - Rich Miller - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 11:56 am:

    ===I imagine===

    Your imagination is not data.


  35. - ChrisB - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 12:05 pm:

    @Rich - Sounds about right. It’s just not an issue I really care to inform myself about. Never smoked it, but I’m fine with total legalization. Treat all smokers the same. Arresting people for it just seems absurd. I honestly don’t see any problems with weed.


  36. - wishbone - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 12:19 pm:

    “Tobacco comes from out of state, and I pay the equivalent of $1 a pack.”

    Put the savings away for your chemo.


  37. - Mark Peysakhovich - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 12:49 pm:

    To everyone who suggests some people will avoid tax by buying cigs elsewhere:

    Yes, I agree with all of you. Some people will do that. But some people will look at it as a pain in the ______ and try to quit. This is a marginal issue and cannot/should not be used as a pivotal argument against tax hikes. In fact, the more work people have to do to get their cigs, the more likely they are to consider quitting. And that’s the bottom line for my ilk….


  38. - Mark Peysakhovich - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 12:58 pm:

    Footnoted Fact Sheets from a credible source:

    TOBACCO TAX INCREASES ARE A RELIABLE SOURCE
    OF SUBSTANTIAL NEW STATE REVENUE:
    http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/research/factsheets/pdf/0303.pdf

    Other relevant fact sheets here too: http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/facts_issues/fact_sheets/policies/tax/us_state_local/


  39. - walkinfool - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 1:29 pm:

    Illinois ranks 17th highest among the states in this tax. Oh, the horror!


  40. - Ghost - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 2:25 pm:

    keep in mind the cigarette sellers bought extraordinary amounts of the old tax stamps before the change. So for months they were selling cigarettes at the higher price, but pocketing the difference because they bought the stamps at the lower rate. So the State Did not earning the extra tax rate until they ran out of the old stamps, even though they charged consumers as if they were under the new stamps.

    http://www.pjstar.com/news/x1225005993/Cigarette-distributors-drop-lawsuit-over-stamp-sales


  41. - Chris - Monday, Aug 5, 13 @ 3:15 pm:

    “you may eventually learn that some folks will take their ideology over actual facts any day”

    Rich–I know. And if I expressed my real thoughts about such folks, you’d probably be forced to ban me, so I’ll refrain.

    But it’s always fun to spell it all out, and then let them *still* argue that Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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