The Sydney Morning Herald on 5th May reports that the Australian government has unveiled a plan to recover billions of dollars being lost to federal coffers from a combination of undetected tobacco imports, illegal tobacco crops known as “chop chop” and a thriving black market in stolen, untaxed cigarettes. It is said that a flourishing illegal trade was costing taxpayers billions while the proceeds were going on to fund other criminal activities. The Australian Taxation Office will be given expanded powers to charge tobacco duties and other tax liabilities on cigarettes when they enter the country rather than when the product leaves a licensed warehouse in Australia destined for the retail market. And a new multi-agency Tobacco Taskforce, to be formally announced in the budget on Tuesday, will crack down on criminal gangs and organised crime syndicates which each year, move a staggering amount of the product beyond the taxman’s reach in the black economy. Authorities believe significant quantities of cigarettes are illegally removed from tobacco warehouses for sale on the black market. Some of this theft may be piecemeal by employees, but larger-scale removal of cigarettes from warehouses is also occurring. The government says it has seized an estimated 98 tonnes of illicit tobacco this financial year alone, which would have netted the taxpayer almost $90 million in revenue had it been sold legally.