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Lawmakers scale back cigar tax bill

A series of 10 green bubble show the bill's successful path through both chambers of the Wyoming Legislature and the governor's office.
Jeff Victor
Wyoming Public Media/Laramie Reporter
Senate File 42 (Enrolled Act 98) was signed into law by Gov. Mark Gordon March 9 alongside 25 other bills. The bill once included a significant tax cut, but that tax cut was removed at the last minute by a conference committee.

Cigars will continue to be taxed in Wyoming at their current rate of 20 percent. A bill seeking to cut that tax rate was watered down as it moved through the Legislature, but what remained of the bill was signed into law by Gov. Mark Gordon last week.

Senate File 42 originally sought to do three things: lower the tax on cigars, define the term "premium cigar," and allow cigar shops to pay taxes when they pass on the product to a consumer — rather than pay upfront when they're stocking their shelves.

Paying taxes later makes life a little easier for the shop because an expensive, premium cigar might sit on a shelf for months before catching a consumer's eye.

The bill was celebrated by tobacco industry representatives. But it was even friendlier to the industry when it was written because it initially included a substantial tax cut.

Right now, the tax rate is 20 percent, which would be, for example, a $2 tax on every $10 cigar. But the bill would have capped the tax at 30 cents per cigar. Lawmakers initially reduced that tax cut. Then a conference committee, tasked with hammering the House and Senate versions of the bill into one final version, took the tax cut out of the bill entirely.

The same committee also wiped out the definition of "premium cigar." When all was said and done, the bill was a lot shorter and simply changed when cigar shops pay taxes.

Gov. Gordon signed this version of the bill into law Thursday.

Jeff is a part-time reporter for Wyoming Public Media, as well as the owner and editor of the Laramie Reporter, a free online news source providing in-depth and investigative coverage of local events and trends.
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