SPRINGFIELD -- The Illinois Department of Revenue is limiting distributors of cigarette tax stamps to their usual supplies while the legislature and Gov. Pat Quinn debate whether to add an additional dollar to the state portion of the taxes.

SPRINGFIELD -- The Illinois Department of Revenue is limiting distributors of cigarette tax stamps to their usual supplies while the legislature and Gov. Pat Quinn debate whether to add an additional dollar to the state portion of the taxes.


Agency spokeswoman Sue Hofer said stamp distributors were notified of the decision early this month as part of an agency effort to discourage a run on the stamps if a cigarette tax increase is approved.


“We want to make sure we have enough for everybody, depending on when, or if, a tax increase goes into effect,” said Hofer. “If it passes and takes effect Jan. 1, you don’t want to have sold so many stamps, you’re not collecting that revenue for two or three months.”


Quinn has proposed adding $1 to the current 98-cents-per-pack state tax to help offset cuts in Medicaid health-care programs for the poor. The governor has estimated the added tax would bring in about $700 million when federal matching funds are included.


The state cigarette tax brought in a little more than $561 million in the fiscal year ended June 30, 2011. The figure is down more than 23 percent from a peak of $729 million in fiscal 2004, according to Department of Revenue figures.


Tax stamps come in rolls of 28,000, and each pack of cigarettes must carry a stamp, said Hofer. She said the restrictions will be based on average use by distributors.


“They will get what they usually get, with a little growth maybe added in,” said Hofer.


She said the agency based its decision on a spike in alcohol sales when the state excise tax on alcohol was raised three years ago.


“What happened was the amount of liquor sold in August (before the increase took effect) was huge compared to the year before,” said Hofer. “The amount of liquor sold in September was tiny compared to the year before.”


Tim Landis can be reached at (217) 788-1536.


Annual revenue from state cigarette taxes, fiscal years 2002-2011


* 2002: $643 million


* 2003: $643 million


* 2004: $729 million


* 2005: $639 million


* 2006: $636 million


* 2007: $604 million


* 2008: $595 million


* 2009: $562 million


* 2010: $549 million


* 2011: $561 million


Source: Illinois Department of Revenue (state fiscal year ends June 30)