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CBP Commemoration 9-11

We will never forget the ones we lost 14 years ago and we honor the bravery of those who worked to save others. @CustomsBorder

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Cigarettes+XXX+smokingRampant cigarette smuggling isn’t the problem in New York–“sky-high” tobacco taxes are, according to an op-ed by Patrick M. Gleason, director of state affairs at Americans for Tax Reform, in The Wall Street Journal.

Gleason’s opinion piece, titled “A Laffer Curve for Smokes,” digested here, takes the city and state of New York to task for their $180-million lawsuit against UPS over what officials allege was unlawful delivery of nearly 700,000 cartons of cigarettes. (A Laffer curve, named for economist Arthur Laffer, shows the relationship between rates of taxation and levels of government revenue.)

“This misguided lawsuit demonstrates once again that too many in government do not understand the root cause of cigarette smuggling. New York state levies the highest cigarette tax in the nation, $4.35 per pack, and New York City tacks on an additional $1.50 local tax. All told, the cost of one pack there can run to $12 or more.

“The result? Most of the cigarettes smoked in New York, 58%, are smuggled in from out of state, according to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation. The higher that revenue-hungry politicians raise tobacco taxes, the more profit smugglers can make.

“Politicians never learn. Of the 32 state tobacco tax increases that went into effect between 2009 and 2013, only three met or exceeded revenue projections, according to industry data.

“Lawmakers can claim they’re raising taxes on cigarettes to reduce smoking and improve public health. That talking point is belied by the recent imposition of taxes on electronic cigarettes, which are saving lives by delivering nicotine in puffs of water vapor instead of chemical-filled smoke. There are more than 15 tax bills pending across the country for currently untaxed e-cigarettes. Hawaii is proposing a tax of 80%, New York of 75%, Oregon of 65% and Ohio of 60%.

“For politicians, cigarette taxes are—and have always been—about one thing: money.

“New York state officials claim that the cigarette smuggling via UPS cost the treasury $29.7 million in lost tax revenue. That’s less than 0.03% of the state budget. The $4.7 million allegedly lost by New York City represents less than 0.006% of its budget.

“For a mere rounding error, state and city officials want to grab $180 million from UPS. That’s $180 million UPS could use to hire new workers, give employees raises, or invest back into its business. The leaders of New York and New York City should drop this silly lawsuit and find a more productive use of their time.”

Click here to view the full Wall Street Journal opinion piece.

A U.S. Customs & Border Protection Mobile Radiation Portal Monitor (MRPM) drives down a row of containers checking them for radiation.The truck will drive down an entire row of containers, scan one side of them and then it will drive down and scan the other side of them.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s maritime mission is now back on-line with today’s processing of cargo vessels and containers. “In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy the people of New York and New Jersey have faced great adversity, the men and women of CBP have been with them each step of the way,” said Robert E. Perez, CBP’s Lead Field Coordinator for CBP in FEMA Region II. “Today’s processing of cargo ships into the Port of New York/Newark marks the next step in CBP restoring its maritime operations here in the greater New York City area and returning to business as usual.”

CBP personnel are on site today processing 161 expected international flights with approximately 31,500 passengers at JFK and 92 expected international flights with approximately 14,500 passengers at Newark International Airport.

To facilitate the flow of goods into the New York area, CBP officers conducted cargo container inspections this morning at the Port of New York/Newark for the first time since Hurricane Sandy battered the New York/New Jersey area. CBP import and entry specialists were back to work as soon as their facility opened last week, processing merchandise to help facilitate the flow of much needed supplies and supporting the United States economy.

CBP worked very closely with the U. S. Coast Guard and the NY/NJ Port Authority to lift waterway restrictions and open marine terminals to cargo vessels. Officers were on site and ready to process shipments as soon as cargo was off loaded. CBP deployed officers to JFK and Newark Liberty International Airport from other parts of the country to assist with the processing of international passengers. Source: FEMA

US TruckingThe American Trucking Association slammed the “irresponsible behaviour of some tolling authorities which, along with complicit state officials, seemingly view toll revenue as a slush fund for investment in all manner of projects, programmes and activities which have nothing to do with maintaining their highways, bridges and tunnels”.

The Chief Financial Officer of National Freight Incorporated (NFI), told last week’s hearing of the US Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee’s Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security that New Jersey-based NFI had paid $14 million in tolls last year. He said that as a result of this his company has been forced to re-route their trucks to less efficient secondary roads, which raises costs and increases congestion and safety concerns.

Further increases planned for tolls on the six interstate bridges and tunnels between New York and New Jersey, operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), would by 2015 raise the charges by 163%, to a total of $105 per truck – nearly three times higher than any other toll in the country. By 2015, a trip from Baltimore to New York City will cost a five-axle truck more than $209 in tolls.

He said the authority had refused to reveal where the extra revenue would be spent, but it was clear that billions would be diverted to major PANYNJ projects like raising the Bayonne Bridge to accomodate bigger ships at the port. He added: “The most egregious use of toll revenue is the approximately $11 billion dedicated to the completion of the World Trade Center office buildings. It is unclear why trucking companies and commuters are being forced to foot the bill for a real estate project.”

He told the hearing: “The process and the outcome points to an authority with unchecked power that shows little regard for the impacts of its decisions on the community which it purports to serve.”

The tolls distorted the market by penalising vehicles that use toll roads and rewarding those diverting to local routes. No doubt this article strikes a ‘tender nerve’ for truckers and commuters in South Africa around this time – SANRAL vs Public. Source: www.ifw-net.com