So I recently moved back home to Pennsylvania. I moved from Florida which is inundated with vape shops, vape shows, and everything vape related. Hell in Florida I could buy a vape or some e-juice at Walmart (not that I wanted to but I could) of all places, that's how common vaping is in Florida. And then I moved to Pennsylvania. I was good for about the first month having loaded up on juice and supplies before I left. Then one day I needed cotton for a review so I decided to check out a local shop.
I walked into one of the larger shops in the area, I won't mention the name, and thought they were maybe going out of business or something. The juice shelves were pretty bare except for maybe 10 different lines of e-juice. I started looking at their product counter and saw maybe 3 sub ohm tanks, 3 RDA's, 4 or 5 mods, and some odds and ends accessories. I had been in this shop before about 2 years ago when I was home for Christmas. They literally had so much stuff I had a hard time finding what I wanted. Now it was a virtual wasteland, just a bunch of empty spaces on the shelves.
PA's 40% Vape Tax
I started talking to the kid behind the counter and asked him what happened. He said when the 40%, yes you read that right, 40% vape tax was passed here in PA it really affected their business. The owners had to pick and choose what they thought would sell and that's all they could afford to put on the shelves. The tax literally closed approx 100 vape shops in PA almost overnight, that's roughly 1/4 of the shops that were registered with the state at the time. You see the vape tax required shop owners to pay a 40% tax on not just their future purchases but 40% on what they already had in stock. So if a shop had an inventory of $100,000 they were required to pay $40,000 as a "floor tax". I don't know about you but I don't have $40k just laying around to hand to the government for trying to run my business.
I decided to check out some of the remaining shops in town to see how they had been affected. One of the shops I had also gone to previously (it was a franchise store) was now under a different name because the franchisee had to sell out because of the tax. Again the shelves were pretty barren. And the prices, the prices were ridiculous. When I talked to the guy behind the counter, who happened to be the owner, I asked him how he could afford to stay open and how he could charge those prices. He said a lot of his vendors split the tax with him, 20% to the shop and 20% on the vendor, but that's still one hell of an expenditure. He said people pay the prices because they have no other choice. An example, he had a SMOK T-Priv kit for $129.99, the same kit I can find online for $75 or less. When I mentioned online he told me that the state will screw you there too.
PA's Online Sales
You see the state of PA now has a form that vapers have to get and fill out every time they make a purchase of anything vape related online. This form is to be filled out throughout the year and then turned in with your state taxes at the end of the year. You will then be responsible for paying 40% of the total on that sheet to the state or face a fine or prison time. This is ridiculous folks, absolutely ridiculous. I don't know how they plan to track online sales but I'm assuming online vape retailers have to report any sales made to PA residents to the state.
The PA Vape Tax Aftermath
I went home a bit discouraged and started doing some Google searches. There's only 4 vape shops left in town at this point. More than half have closed in the surrounding areas as well. Another Google search showed that the State of Pennsylvania also made $13.7 million dollars off that vape tax last year. Pennsylvania also has one of the highest taxes on gasoline in the country. They are supposed to use the gasoline taxes to fix the roads but believe me they haven't. Now I wonder what the vape tax money is going towards?