Vaping tax bill dies on last night of legislative session

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Indiana will not have a vaping tax this year.

Legislation that would have imposed a tax on the liquids used in e-cigarettes died without a vote on the last night of the 2019 Indiana General Assembly. 

The original bill, authored by Rep. Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, would have set a 4-cents-per-milliliter vaping liquid tax. The tax, in part at least, was meant to discourage vaping, especially among teenagers, but lawmakers couldn't agree on how much the tax should be.

The Indiana Senate increased the tax to 20% of the price to make it comparable to the total tax charged on a pack of cigarettes and to make it easier to calculate since it wouldn’t be based on the volume of vaping liquid sold. But before the bill passed out of the Senate, it changed to only suggest creating a summer study committee to research the issue rather than imposing the tax this year.

On Wednesday—the last day of the legislative session—Brown floated two other options to lawmakers that either would have been a 5% retail tax on teh liquid or a 10% retail tax. 

House Speaker Brian Bosma said the House Republican caucus was split between those wanting to tax it at 10%, those wanting a 5% tax and those wanting to do nothing with it this year.

“I’m sure this will not be our last conversation,” Bosma said. “I personally believe we should have regulated vaping. It has become a near epidemic for young people.”

Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray said his caucus eventually realized nothing above a 5% tax was going to pass both chambers, and then advocates for the tax weren’t pleased because they didn’t think 5% would be enough to reduce the number of people vaping.

Plus, Bray said, they were hearing from retailers that it would be difficult to implement the tax.

Even though the bill died, the issue isn’t likely to go away.

“We’re certainly going to be looking at that hard over the summer,” Bray said.

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