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Independence Day fireworks: Laxer state laws could mean more in tax revenue

A growing number of states are relaxing state laws on fireworks in hopes of generating a little extra tax revenue through sales and permit fees

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Fireworks are shown along the Detroit skyline Monday, June 27, 2011. In 2010 and 2011, six states relaxed laws about consumer fireworks use. Such changes could mean more money raised in tax revenue for the state.

Paul Sancya / AP

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States that once pooh-poohed fireworks as dangerous or noisy are starting to come around and acknowledge their true value: up to $1 million a year in tax revenues.

In the last decade, a dozen states have loosened the rules on consumer fireworks, with six of those changes occurring in the past two years as budgets have gotten tighter. Just this year, Kentucky, Utah, and New Hampshire modified their laws to expand what kinds of fireworks can be sold to consumers, and on July 1, Maine’s governor signed a bill that legalizes fireworks use, though it won’t take effect until next year. Legislation to lift the ban on fireworks has also been introduced in Massachusetts. The only other states that still have all-out bans are Delaware, New York, and New Jersey.

Of course, even if a state allows the use of fireworks, individual cities or counties can choose to prohibit them. Still, by allowing fireworks sales and use, a state could raise between $500,000 and $1 million each year in tax revenues, estimates Julie Heckman, the director of the American Pyrotechnic Association. Selling fireworks would also create jobs and bolster a state’s economy.

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