Concerns raised over lack of updated cigarette tax rules and regulations

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Speaker Tina Muna Barnes (PNC file photo)

GovGuam could potentially capture millions of dollars in revenue if proposed rules and regulations to tax cigarettes are approved.

Some, however, feel the process is not moving fast enough.

The matter was addressed during Thursday’s oversight hearing on the Department of Revenue and Taxation.

Speaker Tina Muna Barnes said she was getting mixed messages from Rev and Tax regarding what exactly is needed to move the regulations forward.

During an exchange with Rev and Tax deputy director Michele Santos, Barnes expressed concerns about a breakdown in communication between the department and the other parties necessary to make progress.

Santos said Rev and Tax has encountered major issues on the matter.

These include a personnel shortage and the fact the program is still unfunded.

Barnes then asked for a breakdown of everything Rev and Tax needs to move forward.

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“I just want to share that it’s important that if the Department of Revenue and Taxation can give us a complete breakdown of what it’s going to take..the positions it’s going to need to utilize moving this program forward..give it to me and I will introduce a bill immediately because I think that what we’re doing and losing out on the millions of dollars to try and capture what is being assessed for I think we need this program to move through,” the Speaker said.

She added: “And if that can be given to me..it’s another solution to help me facilitate this public law moving forward. I think it’s important we do that. We are, based on the OPA’s report, losing out on millions of dollars.”
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Deputy Director Santos said public hearings on the proposed rules and regulations will likely be held in December.

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