Another Example of When Tax Isn’t About Numbers

It is not unusual for students about to embark on a semester’s journey in a basic tax course to worry that their perceived inability to “do math” will get in the way of successfully completing the course. Much to their surprise, a substantial portion of what they encounter in the course does not involve math, and when math does show up it’s pretty much simple arithmetic.Two months ago, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court delivered its opinion in a tax case. Neither math nor arithmetic were part of the analysis.The core question faced by the court in East Coast Vapor, LLC, v. Penna. Dept. of Revenue, was whether e-cigarettes that do not deliver tobacco, and e-liquids that do not contain nicotine or contain nicotine from non-tobacco sources, are “tobacco products” under the Tobacco Products Tax Act. Specifically, the court was asked to decide if the legislature, by including these items within the definition of “tobacco products,”…

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