June ended with the Commonwealth Court issuing a unanimous ruling on whether it is unlawful or not for Pennsylvania to press taxes on electronic cigarettes and e-liquid under the broad name “tobacco products” even if they do not deliver tobacco. And to the dismay of electronic cigarette merchant account owners, the jury decided that taxing e-cigs was not unconstitutional.
But the court also discovered and made it clear that it would be a breach of the Tobacco Products Tax Act (TPTA) to tax separately/individually packaged section parts that make up e-cigs.
The petition was filed by the renowned East Coast Vapor against the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, arguing that the latter’s intentions were unconstitutional for the following reasons;
- TPTA’s description of “tobacco products” as items that contain or deliver nicotine violated the United State’s definition of the same.
- It would also be in contravention of Pennsylvania law to tax individual parts because most e-cigarettes either do not have nicotine or have nicotine that does not come from tobacco.
Going harder on their counterparts, East Coast further argued that individually taxing the section parts of e-cigs which the Pennsylvania DOR (Department of Revenue) regard as “integral” to the gadgets is not backed up by TPTA and infringes the uniformity clause of the state rules.
On a June 22 court reading by Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer, the Commonwealth Court first threw away DOR’s claims that East Coast had failed to follow protocol because it didn’t present the dispute to the Board of Finance and Revenue before moving to court.
Jubelirer said East Coast was not out of protocol in raising a significant constitutional challenge.
Addressing the due process claim, the judge declared that according to legislative history “the General Assembly has had concerns about young people using e-cigarettes becoming addicts to nicotine …Read more