Unfortunately, this is not a joke. In Tennessee, as in 23 other states, there exists a tax on illegal substances. It is commonly known as the “drug tax”.
The unauthorized substances tax is a state excise tax levied on controlled substances (marijuana, cocaine, crack, methamphetamine, etc.) and certain illicit alcoholic beverages (untaxed liquors and spirits). The tax is due by any dealer who possesses an unauthorized substance upon which the tax has not been paid as evidenced by a stamp available from the Tennessee Department of Revenue. A “dealer” is any person who possesses one or more marijuana plants or more than 42.5 grams of marijuana, seven or more grams of any other unauthorized substance that is sold by weight, 10 or more dosage units of any other unauthorized substance not sold by weight, or any illicit alcoholic beverage.
The tax rates for 2006 were $3.50 per gram for pot and $50 per gram for cocaine. There are severe penalties for not having purchased the tax prior to law enforcement actually keeping your drugs as well. In the end, you could end up being taxed hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars. If the assessment stands, all of your personal possessions could be levied in order to satisfy the tax.
You do have options however; recently a local judge struck down the tax because of its unconstitutionality. The State has taken an appeal from that decision however. We have filed on behalf of clients before and currently have cases pending disputing the legality of this tax as well. Also, when we file it stops any attempt by the Department of Revenue from levying any of your personal property.
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