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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

States Reforming 280E to Support Legal Cannabis Businesses


Key Takeaways:

  • Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code prevents cannabis businesses from deducting ordinary business expenses on their federal taxes.
  • State-legal cannabis businesses that operate in adult and medical-use markets are subject to higher taxes due to Section 280E.
  • Several states, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, and Oregon, have enacted legislation to address 280E and reduce the tax burden on cannabis businesses.
  • Federal tax relief can only be achieved through the passage of federal 280E reform or the removal of cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act.

Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) poses a significant challenge for cannabis businesses operating in adult and medical-use markets. This provision prevents these businesses from deducting ordinary expenses on their federal taxes, resulting in higher tax burdens. In this article, we will explore the impact of Section 280E on the cannabis industry and the measures taken by certain states to alleviate the tax burden. We will also discuss the potential for federal tax relief through 280E reform or the removal of cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act.

Understanding Section 280E

Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code explicitly prohibits businesses involved in the trade or distribution of Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substances from deducting expenses on their federal taxes. Due to marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act, state-legal cannabis businesses cannot deduct their ordinary business expenses from their federal taxes. This means that even though these businesses are authorized under state laws, they are still considered drug traffickers by the IRS and are subject to the provisions of Section 280E.

The Tax Burden on Cannabis Businesses

As a result of Section 280E, state-legal cannabis businesses face disproportionately high tax burdens compared to other industries. A recent economic analysis revealed that in 2022 alone, cannabis operators paid over $1.8 billion in additional taxes due to this provision. This excessive tax burden has had a detrimental impact on the financial viability of cannabis businesses.

State-Level Efforts to Address 280E

Recognizing the need to alleviate the tax burden on cannabis businesses, several states have taken steps to address Section 280E at the state level. States such as California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, and Oregon have enacted legislation aimed at reducing the impact of 280E on cannabis businesses. These measures vary but generally involve providing certain deductions or exemptions for cannabis-related expenses at the state tax level.

The Limitations of State-Level Changes

While state-level legislation offers some relief from the excessive tax burden, it cannot provide federal tax relief. To achieve federal tax relief, explicit federal 280E reform or the removal of cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act is required.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is Section 280E?

    Section 280E is a provision in the Internal Revenue Code that prohibits businesses involved in the trade or distribution of Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substances from deducting expenses on their federal taxes.

  2. Why are state-legal cannabis businesses subject to higher taxes?

    State-legal cannabis businesses operating in adult and medical-use markets are unable to deduct their ordinary business expenses from their federal taxes due to Section 280E. This results in higher tax payments compared to businesses in other industries.

  3. Which states have enacted legislation to address 280E?

    Several states, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, and Oregon, have enacted legislation to address Section 280E and alleviate the tax burden on cannabis businesses.

  4. How can federal tax relief be achieved?

    Federal tax relief can be achieved through the passage of federal 280E reform or by removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act.

Conclusion

Section 280E presents a significant challenge for state-legal cannabis businesses, forcing them to bear an excessive tax burden due to the inability to deduct ordinary business expenses on their federal taxes. While some states have taken steps to address this issue, true relief can only be achieved through federal 280E reform or the removal of cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act. The quest for tax relief continues as the cannabis industry seeks fair treatment in the realm of federal taxation.

Dr. Jen Chalmers
Dr. Jen Chalmers
Dr. Jen Chalmers is an accomplished writer and cannabis enthusiast. With a Ph.D. in Botany and years of experience as a researcher, she brings a scientific perspective to her captivating articles on cannabis news, recipes, and the fascinating world of psychedelics.

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