Congressman Michael San Nicolas has introduced H.R. 4635 which seeks to assert federal authority over cigarette smuggling on Guam.
H.R. 4635 amends Title 18 of the U.S. Criminal Code to include Guam under federal jurisdiction for cigarette enforcement.
San Nicolas said he introduced the bill after over a year without the implementation of local law mandating cigarette tax stamps.
In the 34th Guam Legislature, it was uncovered that up to 98 million cigarettes were unaccounted for in local tax rolls, resulting in $14.6 million in uncollected cigarette tax revenues.
“As a Guam Senator I passed local law mandating tax stamps to end apparent tax evasion and cigarette smuggling on Guam; however this local law remains unenforced, and the people of Guam do not deserve to be shortchanged by a failure to enforce local law,” San Nicolas said in a release.
“The $14.6 million in uncollected cigarette taxes would have funded GMH, cancer treatments, and programs to address addictions. Failure to collect adds to our deficits, and unfairly reinforces arguments to raise taxes on everyone else because a select few get away with not paying what is owed,” he added.
If passed, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and other federal agencies will be able to act on cigarette smuggling activities and adjudicate violations with the Guam U.S. District Attorney.
“When we have local laws on our books to resolve our problems local leaders have an obligation to act. This is one of several examples we have seen where local laws go unaddressed at the expense of the people of Guam, and we will act as necessary to end this form of corruption,” San Nicolas said.