ATR Urges West Virginia Lawmakers to Rein in Spending During Special Budget Session

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Posted by Paul Blair on Sunday, May 22nd, 2016, 3:35 PM PERMALINK


As the West Virginia legislature enters the second week of deliberations during the 2016 Special Session, Americans for Tax Reform is urging lawmakers to focus on spending restraint instead of tax increases to address the state's $270 million shortfall. Unfortunately, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D-W.Va.) has limited the options of the legislature in his narrow call for session, and has proposed tax hikes as the ultimate solution to the state's overspending problem.

Among the most significant elements of the tax increases being considered is a tobacco tax hike, which would disproportionately harm low-income consumers and border communities. SB 1005 would increase the cigarette tax by 45 cents per pack, raise the wholesale tax on other tobacco products to 12 percent, and impose a new 7.5 cents per mL tax on the liquid contained in tobacco-free electronic cigarettes and vapor products.

ATR outlined our opposition to these proposals in a February letter to the legislature, which can be read here.

In urging the legislature to focus on spending restraint instead of tax hikes during the Special Budget Session, ATR president Grover Norquist and Americans for Prosperity - WV state director Jason Huffman (AFP) have jointly authored a letter explaining:

"Imposing tax hikes on residents will do little to make West Virginia more attractive to investment or stop residents from continually fleeing to other states." 

They explain further:

"West Virginia does not have a revenue problem; the state government has an overspending problem. At $12,910, per-capita government spending in West Virginia was the third highest in the nation in 2014. It should be noted that the two states with higher per-capita spending – Alaska and Wyoming – don’t impose income taxes and currently have among the lowest tax burdens among any states."

There are still significant elements of the budget that contain waste, cost overruns, and abuse that the legislature should work to eliminate.

"An estimated $100 million a year is wasted by bureaucrats on Medicaid because of improperly awarded managed care contracts obtained without competitive bidding.

Similar waste exists at the Division of Highways, where Deloitte identified 15 instances of waste that cost taxpayers $25-50 million a year in cost overruns because of the  inefficient use of resources."

ATR will closely monitor deliberations and continue to urge lawmakers to focus on spending restraint, budget transparency, and government reform instead of tax hikes in the coming days and weeks.

Click here to read the ATR-AFP coalition letter to lawmakers.

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Noel Benadom, Flickr

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Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller Refuses to Rule out Tax Hikes in Bid for Congress

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Posted by Adam Radman, Paul Blair on Wednesday, April 27th, 2016, 3:04 PM PERMALINK


Greg Zoeller is the only Republican candidate for Indiana’s 9th Congressional district to refuse to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge promising to oppose higher taxes. His unwillingness to rule out tax hikes is somewhat unsurprising, given his call for higher taxes in Indiana as recently as last year. Zoeller asked the state legislature to impose a new 24 percent wholesale tax on tobacco-free electronic cigarettes and vapor products in the lead-up to the legislative session.

His ignorance and outright hostility to this emerging product category flies in the face of growing evidence that vapor products are at least 95% less harmful than combustible cigarettes and are proven-effective smoking cessation devices. It also stands to make him among the only Republican member of Congress with such misguided and outspoken opposition to the products.

The Taxpayer Protection Pledge has been offered to every candidate for federal office since 1986. In the 114th Congress, 218 Congressmen and 48 Senators have signed the Pledge, including Rep. Todd Young (IN-09). 

Each of the remaining candidates has signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, promising to voters that they would oppose tax hikes. Those candidates include Trey Hollingsworth, Brent Waltz, Erin Houchin, and Robert Hall.

This primary election also comes on the heels of new state regulations that stand to decimate the state vapor market. One could argue that Zoeller’s outspoken position on the products jump-started the effort to overregulate the products in Indiana last year.  

The voters in Indiana have a right to know where a candidate stands on the issues before electing them to Congress. Zoeller’s refusal to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge puts him outside the mainstream of the Republican Party. Eighty-nine percent of all congressional Republicans have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. He would be one of a small group of Republicans open to raising taxes,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “The only reason  Zoeller wouldn't sign the Pledge is if he intends to raise taxes.

The promises that Zoeller makes about strengthening Indiana’s economy mean little without the backing of a concrete written promise to oppose higher taxes. Only by signing the Pledge can Indiana taxpayers be certain that Zoeller stands with them.

Voters should keep this in mind as they head to the polls in Indiana next Tuesday, May 3rd.

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Eric Bradner

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charlie

I'm glad I don't live in Indiana. I switched from smoking to vaping 18 months ago and so did some other people who are very important to me. I feel better and save $3,000 a year. Low income families with parents who smoke as I did and who switch as I did will make a huge improvement in family finances. The biggest beneficiaries of that would be their kids. There should be no interference with smokers switching to vaping.


ATR Supports Predicate Date Change in the Tobacco Control Act

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Posted by Paul Blair on Monday, April 18th, 2016, 2:36 PM PERMALINK


The U.S. House Committee on Appropriations will begin markup on the 2017 Agriculture Bill tomorrow, representing a significant opportunity to halt the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) overregulation of vapor products in the United States. An amendment to the bill, proposed by Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) will change what is known as the “predicate date” for tobacco products that have hit the market since February of 2007.

This is significant for a number of reasons. First, the Tobacco Control Act (TCA) established an arbitrary date of February 15, 2007 of which all tobacco or tobacco-derived products must establish existence in the market in order to avoid an expensive, if not impossible regulatory pre-approval process within the FDA. This was essentially intended to prevent new tobacco products like cigarettes from hitting the market without pre-approval, which would likely not ever occur.

Unfortunately, innovation has encountered an outdated regulatory code and trapped life-saving smoking cessation products in the mix.

Tobacco-free electronic cigarettes and vapor products did not exist in any commercialized form in 2007, signaling that it was not the intent of the Tobacco Control Act to regulate these products in a similar manner. Unfortunately, because the nicotine contained in many vapor products comes from tobacco plants, the FDA has asserted regulatory authority under the TCA covers these products as well.

As such, an effort underway by Rep. Cole would change the arbitrary 2007 date to the date at which the FDA announces its “deeming regulation,” where they deem vapor products as tobacco products, for regulatory purposes. This common sense change to the Tobacco Control Act would ensure that products already being sold to millions of consumers in the United States would remain available and affordable for adults. Absent a change in this date, the most significant advancement in public health in decades will be stifled by government. 

The growing body of scientific evidence suggests that vapor products are at least 95% and as much as 99% less harmful than combustible cigarettes. Both Matt Meyers of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and Mitch Zeller of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products have made statements suggesting their understanding of the opportunity for risk mitigation as well.

Matt Meyers, in 2014 testimony to the Senate Commerce Committee: “Responsibly marketed and properly regulated, e-cigarettes could benefit public health if they help significantly reduce the number of people who smoke conventional cigarettes and become sick and die as a result.” He explained further that if properly regulated, “I don’t think there is any doubt that there would be a reduction in harm,” from smokers who switched to e- cigarettes.

Mitch Zeller: “If we could get all of those people [who smoke] to completely switch all of their cigarettes to noncombustible cigarettes, it would be good for public health.”

Absent a Congressional change in the predicate date, only large tobacco companies will be able to afford the compliance costs associated with obtaining pre-market approval within the FDA to sell electronic cigarettes. The millions of dollars necessary to undergo this expensive regulatory process will halt innovation, and put most small businesses out of business, striking a significant blow to public health.

A change in the predicate date will do nothing to prevent the FDA from regulating the product category with reasonable requirements like ingredient disclosure or the establishment of good manufacturing practices. It will simply permit innovation to exist to the benefit of most consumers and small businesses in the industry.

Click here to read ATR president Grover Norquist’s letter to members of the House Committee on Appropriations. 

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RB's

Better yet, how about legislation to terminate the FDA? Let the government busybodies of this world find real jobs that add real value for once in their useless lives. Now that would be "change we can believe in!"


It’s Time for Presidential Candidates to Weigh In on the Overregulation of Vapor Products

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Posted by Paul Blair on Wednesday, March 16th, 2016, 5:22 PM PERMALINK


When the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) designates that a federal regulation or rule is significant, or having an effect on the economy of more than $100 million, the agency must send a report to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and both houses of Congress. This requirement was signed into law in 1996 in the form of the Congressional Review Act (CRA), and it allows legislators to introduce a resolution of disapproval to rescind a regulation. If successfully passed, the rule “may not be reissued in substantially the same form.”

Though the requirement to inform the GAO or Congress is often ignored, the requirement and important oversight authority of CRA do provide a legislative tool for Congress if it becomes necessary to provide a check on burdensome federal regulations. 

The American Action Forum predicts that given the current House and Senate calendars, President Obama will have until May 17, 2016 to issue significant regulations without fear the next Congress and succeeding administration will use the CRA to repeal the regulations. 

One such significant regulation is the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) proposed “deeming regulation” for electronic cigarettes and vapor products in the U.S. Without Congressional intervention, the FDA is poised to deem that these tobacco-free technology products be regulated like tobacco products under the Family Smoking and Prevention Tobacco Control Act. Predictions on the impact of this regulation range significantly, with some estimates suggesting that the cost of compliance would range from $2 to $10 million per product currently being sold to consumers. The total impact on the economy would far exceed the $100 million threshold for notice and Congressional oversight. This includes closed businesses, job losses, compliance costs, and a significantly negative public health impact in the short and long term. 

The first and easiest way to address the yet-to-be-announced deeming regulation for vapor products would be to amend what is known as the “predicate date” for the introduction of what the FDA labels as tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. A House Resolution (HR 2058) sponsored by Oklahoma Congressman Tom Cole does just that, and has 51 Republican co-sponsors in the House. ATR supports this effort. 

But given the inaction over this issue, it’s time for the next President to weigh in. Without Congressional action and assuming the FDA does finalize its deeming rule for vapor products, the next president will play an important role in potentially utilizing the CRA in conjunction with Congress to prevent the FDA from destroying thousands of small businesses and harming public health.

E-cigarettes are at least 95 and as much as 99 percent less harmful than combustible cigarettes.  This is no small issue and deserves the attention of those seeking America’s highest office.

In testimony to the Senate Commerce Committee, Matthew Myers of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids explained,

“Responsibly marketed and properly regulated, e-cigarettes could benefit public health if they help significantly reduce the number of people who smoke conventional cigarettes and become sick and die as a result.”

Where do Donald Trump, Gov.John Kasich (R-Ohio), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) stand on the FDA’s attempt to kill the vapor product industry? To date, none of these candidates have weighed in.

Given the fact that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that there were at least 9 million consumers of these products in 2014, silence on these issues may not be a sustaining political tactic. 

Photo Credit: 
Rafer Weigel, Fox 2 St. Louis

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Grimm Green

Yeah... you're just super trolling now , well played

expresshawk

You obviously know nothing about electronic cigarettes, as evidenced by your reference to them as "electronic tobacco," which they certainly are not. There is nothing "conservative" about your position. The article you're commenting on says nothing about taxation, which suggests either you didn't read it or you're just a troll looking for attention by posting random, irrelevant comments.

marcoaltier

And please...nothing from a satire news site showing pictures of war victims in hospital beds shot in Kuwait, claiming to be be US victims of exploding mods.


ATR Opposes Using Tax Hikes to Fix West Virginia's Overspending Problem

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Posted by Paul Blair on Monday, February 29th, 2016, 1:50 PM PERMALINK


With less than two weeks remaining in West Virginia's 2016 Regular Legislative Session, budget work continues as part of an effort to address a $400 million overspending problem in this fiscal year. The new Republican majority has made great strides in protecting taxpayers and workers in the Mountain State this year, passing a repeal of the state prevailing wage law and making West Virginia the 26th Right-to-Work state.  

In the final days of session, however, taxpayers remain at risk. In his 2016 budget, Gov. Tomblin (D-W.Va.) proposed a number of tax increases on tobacco and tobacco-free smoking cessation products, including a 45-cent-per pack cigarette tax. The state Senate amended and passed that plan, in the form of Senate Bill 420, increasing the state cigarette tax by $1-per pack, which would make the state rate $1.55-per pack. This is a misguided approach to fixing an overspending problem and will only create more volatility in the budget in the long term.

As Grover explains in his letter to the legislature: 

"Targeted excise taxes have proven to be unstable sources of revenue, and ultimately can cause a reduction in tax receipts. Increasing the state¹s reliance on tobacco taxes by increasing them by $1 per pack will not necessarily generate more revenue in the long term. When Illinois nearly doubled its cigarette tax in 2012 by raising the tax $1-per-pack; it generated $138 million less than projected. A reduction in tax receipts is a common occurrence amongst cities and states that attempt to discourage consumption with higher costs. In fact, only three out of the 32 state tobacco tax increases, enacted between 2009 and 2013, have met or exceeded tax revenue projects." 

Those in the public health community have a good reason to be concerned with SB 420 as well. 

"Anti-smoking activists and public health advocates should be concerned about the next target of tax hikes contained in SB 420: electronic cigarettes and vapor products. These tobacco-free technology products are helping tens of thousands of smokers make the transition to far healthier alternatives. By imposing a 7.5-cent per mL tax on e-cigarettes and retroactively requiring taxes to be paid on store inventory, this punitive tax is both anti-health and a shameless cash grab.

One vape shop owner in Monongalia and Harrison counties has already stated that this would cost him between $30,000-$50,000 up front. It is reckless to destroy with tax hikes small businesses accomplishing what tax hikes on cigarettes never could, getting people to quit smoking.

Taking aim at e-cigarettes with higher taxes works against efforts to reduce the harm associated with smoking. A number of studies have shown that electronic cigarettes can improve health and prevent disease. By choosing to "vape" e-cigarettes, consumers get their nicotine fix without the combustion and smoke, which are responsible for many of the negative health effects of tobacco cigarettes. A Public Health England study found that e-cigarettes are 95-99% less harmful than tobacco cigarettes. The legislature should reject raising taxes on healthier, life-saving products."

Click here to read Grover's letter on Senate Bill 420. 

Another piece of legislation that recently passed the House Finance Committee by a voice vote, risks being used as a Trojan Horse for a tax increase. House Bill 2704 would broaden the list of products and services subjected to the state sales tax and lower the rate from 6 percent to 5.5 percent at the end of 2016.

As Grover explains in his letter to the House of Delegates: 

"HB 2704 represents a step in the right direction because it broadens the base of products and services subjected to the sales tax while lowering the rate overall. Principally, this is what conservative tax reform looks like. Caution must be taken, however, to ensure that HB 2704 is revenue neutral, if static scoring is applied, where economic growth is not considered. If dynamic scoring is applied, it is likely that this legislation would generate more revenue for the state in the long term and that would not constitute a tax increase because it is accomplished through growth.

If the broader sales tax rate is not reduced to a rate that makes this a revenue neutral bill, voting for it will constitute a violation of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, the written commitment many lawmakers have made to their constituents to oppose tax increases." 

Click here to read Grover's letter on House Bill 2704. 

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DONALD YORK

Any who sympathize with tobacco using citizens, ostracized and "sin taxed" at rates ever more cruel and unusual, please "Share" or link to this song if you like it. "If You're Not Buying Cigarettes then What Kind of Citizen ARE You?"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?...


UPDATED: Map of Pending Tax Threats to Vapor Products in the States

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Posted by Paul Blair on Wednesday, February 24th, 2016, 5:44 PM PERMALINK


On the day of an overwhelmingly bipartisan Senate confirmation of President Obama's pick for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner and on the heels of a House budget hearing for the FDA, it's important to examine the fights taking place against government overreach at the state level as well. The most significant of which includes the ongoing attempt by the so-called public health community and money-hungry lawmakers to raise taxes on electronic cigarettes and vapor products.


Click here for a larger image of the tax rate and threat map. 

*As of today, 11 states are still considering imposing excise or "sin" taxes on e-cigarettes, a policy prescription that Americans for Tax Reform fundamentally opposes in every state with ongoing threats. E-cigarettes are not only tobacco-free technology products; they are actually effective smoking cessation tools and helping thousands of Americans quit smoking. Politicians should not only reject efforts to raise taxes on e-cigarettes; they should publicly embrace and celebrate the growth of the industry. 

*Updated on March 22.

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Anthony Squire

Really? The only person who has commented on this is using broken English and probably using a website to translate from another language to tell us.. well I'm not 100 percent sure what Mr Terlizzi is trying to say. We as a nation should be standing up for our rights, if they are going to tax e cigarettes unjustly we should stand up and fight it. What do you suppose the car manufactures would do if a tax bill came across that said were going to propose a 50% use tax on luxury cars or a 10 cent per french fry tax on anything above a small fry. There is no more reason to tax e-cigarettes at this high of a rate than any other item. If someone tries to use the justification that it's to help with the medical expenses incurred by the use of these products I say prove it, because I would venture to say that using these products has not only helped keep former smokers (due to electronic cigarettes) healthier and out of our hospitals but the sides of our highways with less cigarette butts by the millions.

Russel Terlizzi

If you wish to know why is it so hard to give up smoking we must to locate the guilty: Nicotine. And also the fact that this substance is easy to get at through the cigarette does not mean it's safe, it's actually the most addictive substances nowadays, and like every addiction, at you will need to eliminate their consumption occur both real and psychic symptoms referred to as abstinence syndrome.

It is possible to just google it for CHARLES JACKSON QUIT SMOKING PROGRAM to have the book that we made use of

I will definitely digg it and personally suggest to my friends.


Grover Norquist on C-SPAN: Vaping and the Changing Electorate in 2016

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Posted by Paul Blair on Monday, February 22nd, 2016, 2:59 PM PERMALINK


In an interview with Washington Journal on C-SPAN this morning, ATR president Grover Norquist discussed a wide range of topics, including President Obama’s final budget request, the tax and budget plans put forth by 2016 presidential candidates and the changing electorate that may determine the outcome of the election.

In this 4-minute excerpt, Grover discusses the minimum wage, Hillary Clinton’s 25% tax on guns, homeschooling, Uber, eBay, and vaping.

Grover explains that a lot of the thinking behind new regulations and taxes comes from outdated laws and understandings of the economy and its consumers. Such is certainly the case with vaping. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is finalizing rules that will subject tobacco-free technology products, electronic cigarettes, to a tobacco regulatory network. This may impact the presidential race, for those who fail to understand this problematic approach to governing. 

Click here to learn more about the millions of vapers who may influence the outcome of the 2016 election. 

“Freedom issues that run up against old laws that don’t make any sense anymore and each of these expanding freedoms have changed the nature of the electorate.” 

On vaping, Grover explains:

“Our liberal friends want to tax, regulate and in fact have announced that they want to have a prohibition, like we did with liquor, on vaping. The FDA’s moving towards that.”  

For the full interview, click here.

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The Grover Norquist Show: Welcome to the Leave Us Alone Coalition

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Posted by Alec DiFruscia on Friday, February 19th, 2016, 5:43 PM PERMALINK


In this episode of the Grover Norquist Show, ATR President Grover Norquist discusses the changing electorate here in the United States and its impact on the upcoming election. While the Left will tell us the electorate is changing in their favor, the facts say quite the opposite.

At the state level, 23 states are completely controlled by Republicans, in addition to 8 states that have Democratic governors but the GOP runs both houses of the legislature. Over the past 30 years, the country has seen sweeping reforms in education, gun rights, and other lifestyle issues that will drive voters to the polls.

Three million students are currently enrolled in public-charter schools, 13 million adults have a concealed carry permit, and nearly 10 million people vape as an alternative to cigarettes. Democratic Presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton has promised to crush charter schools, limit our gun rights, and curb the rights of vapers. Come November, the Democrats will be in for a rude awakening.

To listen to the podcast, click here or watch below:

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Podcast: Taxes and Regulations Will Stifle Growth of Life-Saving Electronic Cigarette Industry

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Posted by Paul Blair on Friday, February 19th, 2016, 4:49 PM PERMALINK


In a recent episode of the Tech Policy Podcast with Tech Freedom, Americans for Tax Reform's Paul Blair discussed the pending federal regulations that stand to cripple the electronic cigarette and vapor product industry. Discussions include the public health benefits of e-cigarettes, efforts in the states to raise taxes on them, and the status of looming regulations by the Food and Drug Administration. What's next? Who is impacted? What can vapers do? All of this and more in Episode 17 of the Tech Policy Podcast.

Click here for the most up-to-date map of excise tax threats in the states. 

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ATR Hosts Small Businesses From Around Country to Discuss the Politics of Vaping


Posted by Paul Blair on Wednesday, February 10th, 2016, 1:54 PM PERMALINK


Last week, Americans for Tax Reform hosted small businesses from around the country for a happy hour to discuss “the politics of vaping.” Over 100 members of the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA) were in Washington, D.C. meeting with members of Congress in an effort to convince them to curb the implementation of the Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory assault and pending “deeming rule” on the sale and availability of electronic cigarettes and vapor products.

ATR President Grover Norquist with SFATA President Cynthia Cabrera

These tobacco-free technology products have faced an onslaught of tax and regulatory threats throughout the country. This, despite the fact that a recent government-funded study found that e-cigarettes are at least 95 percent less harmful than combustible tobacco cigarettes.

Beyond the policy issues the industry and its consumers face, ATR president Grover Norquist discussed the political implications of threatening the 9 million plus adult vapor product consumers in the context of the 2016 elections.

"I think that the next election, at the presidential level, and a lot of other levels, is going to be determined by the vaping community," said Grover. "Lifestyle issues win because of the power of the political support behind them," he said.

The Washington Examiner's Paul Bedard wrote about the event here. Quoting Grover, Bedard wrote:

"Vaping is not a product. It is a movement. It is a community, it is a political movement in support of a community and it's changing the country in very good ways," [Grover] said at a reception during a two-day lobbying effort on Capitol Hill by the association last week.

At the federal level, Congressional Democrats have stood in the way of a minor rule change that would allow the thousands of U.S. small businesses helping combustible cigarette smokers quit to continue doing so. Without action, the pre-market review and regulatory process required of these businesses would be unaffordable and some estimate it would equate to prohibition for 99 percent of the market. It should be noted that the pending regulation does not necessarily regulate the market; it simply requires businesses obtain permission from the FDA to continue to sell products to consumers. 

Click here for the most recent map of tax threats in the states. 

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