• United States
Contributing Writer

Massachusetts smokes out online cigarette sales

Nov 04, 20032 mins
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* Tax collectors catch up with online cigarette shoppers

Type in “Massachusetts” and “cigarettes” into your search engine and up pops more than a half-dozen offers to buy cigarettes online. The kicker – you can avoid paying Massachusetts state taxes.

The Commonwealth is trying to curb this behavior, worried that it will lose the more than $1 revenue it gets from each pack of cigarettes. Already, the residents of Massachusetts head to New Hampshire to buy cartons of cigarettes without paying sales tax.

The crackdown is aimed at educating buyers that even if they purchase cigarettes online, they are required to send the state government the required taxes.

The government, which is not leaving it up to its citizens to be responsible, has linked up with online cigarette retailers. The retailers hand over information about who purchased what items from Massachusetts and the state then sends those buyers a bill.

Like many who oppose a ban on Internet taxes, the Commonwealth believes that the Internet will have a significant impact on the revenue it sees from taxable items such as cigarettes. If buyers think they can save the $1.51 per package by heading online, then the government will lose out.

So Massachusetts has developed stiff penalties for non-payment, including cutting off drivers license renewals and car registrations (see story link below).

What do you think? Should states be allowed to go after sales tax for online purchases? Let me know at