State officials say a fee on wire transfers of money is needed to
help fund drug-enforcement activities. Others say the fee is
discriminatory and will harm the ability of low-income people to
send money to their families in other countries.
The fee, outlined in House Bill 2250 by state Rep. Randy Terrill,
R-Moore, is $5 on money transmissions up to $500, plus 1 percent of
the amount in excess of $500. Consumers who file state tax returns
can get a refund of the fees. Businesses that fail to remit the fees
to the Oklahoma Tax Commission face possible suspension of their
The measure took effect July 1.
Terrill was also the principal author of Oklahoma's new
An analysis by House staff indicated that the measure would raise
about $4 million annually to help fund the Oklahoma Bureau of
Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control.
David Landsman is executive director of the National Money
Transmitters Association, based in Great Neck, N.Y. He said the
organization is made up of about 30 smaller money-transfer
"I'm concerned for my industry and I'm concerned for the
consumers that use our industry," Landsman said. "We work through
agents and we help people send money to their countries of origin.
There are some undocumented aliens among our clientele."
Landsman said several states have attempted to adopt such laws.
"Most of them are doing it in order to punish undocumented
aliens," he said.
Landsman termed the income tax-based refund process "cynical."
"They're really not expecting anybody to do that," he said. "They
don't believe any taxpaying Oklahoma citizens use this service, but
that's not true. The truth is that it would be too inconvenient for
somebody to go ahead and do that for $5. People are just going to
look for other ways to send money."
Landsman predicted that people who live near a border with
another state will cross the line to send money in a fee-free state,
give it to family members or friends to do that for them, or open a
He said the measure amounts to a bill of attainder.
"A bill of attainder is a piece of legislation that was created
to punish a certain person or sector of persons," Landsman said.
"This is unconstitutional."
He predicted that small money-transmitter companies will leave
"To me this is Nazi-ism," he said. "It's really terrible."
Landsman also said that a June 24 notice sent to licensees did
not give them sufficient time to comply by July 1.
Terrill denied that the measure is aimed at any particular group,
but said the income tax-based refund process would put the incidence
of the fee on drug traffickers and illegal aliens.
The lawmaker also responded to Landsman's remarks.
"If by discriminatory, what he is saying is that the incidence of
the fee would fall primarily on illegal aliens and narco-
traffickers, then I would have to plead guilty to that," Terrill
Terrill said the drug bureau normally receives some of its
funding from the proceeds of asset seizures and forfeitures, from
which revenue has been declining for a couple of years. At the same
time, he said, the percentage of contested seizures and forfeitures
has risen from about 20 percent to 80 percent. …