Paying taxes in cash, marijuana companies have a lot to hash out with IRS

Thousands of companies involved in the $6.7 billion US cannabis industry are forced by disparities in state and federal law to conduct nearly all transactions in cash.

The volume of payments coming into the IRS from the legal cannabis industry has prompted the IRS to increase cash-counting capability in Denver and Seattle.

29 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana in some form, and 8 have approved laws enabling the sale for recreational use.

The cannabis industry is expected to balloon to $21 billion by 2021.

It’s Tax Day. No company likes handing money over to the tax collector, but for Oakland-based Harborside Health, settling up with the Internal Revenue Service represents a unique kind of headache. Like many successful retail operations, Harborside — which brought in $44 million in revenue in 2016 — owes millions of dollars in taxes to federal, state and local governments. Unlike most other companies, Harborside has to count and hand-deliver those millions of dollars to the IRS and other authorities in cash.

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