Minnesota - thousands of untaxed cigarettes recently seized..

August 18, 2010 - Thousands of untaxed cartons of cigarettes were recently seized across the state, the Minnesota Department of Revenue announced today, August 13th. Nearly 10,300 cartons containing 2 million cigarettes were seized between May 2009 and June 2010 by state and federal authorities.

State law requires that payment of the tax imposed on each pack of cigarettes must be verified with a corresponding value of stamps attached to each package. None of the cigarette packs in the cartons seized had the proper stamps. The unpaid state tax on the cigarettes is approximately $159,000 with an additional unpaid federal tax of $104,000.

Possession of untaxed cigarettes may result in criminal penalty for the buyer.
Purchasing untaxed cigarettes from an unlicensed seller may result in criminal penalties for the reseller. Penalties could range from misdemeanors to felonies and buyers would be subject to tax, penalty and interest.

Minnesotans who purchase untaxed products that are shipped into the state must report the cigarette tax on the Consumer’s Cigarette Tax Return (CT203) and the tobacco tax on the Consumer’s Tobacco Tax Return (CT303). These forms can be found on our website at www.taxes.state.mn.us. Cigarette and tobacco taxes not paid by the 18th of the month following the month of purchase are subject to interest and penalty.

Most of the cigarettes were sold by American internet sites but manufactured in Ukraine. In many cases, cigarettes sold over the internet are counterfeit. Often times they are made in unsanitary facilities. (Ukraine - lost cigarettes flooding Europe..)

The Minnesota Department of Revenue has a 24-hour tip line for anyone who suspects an individual or business is violating tax laws, at (651) 297-5195 or 1-800-657-3500. Tipsters may remain anonymous and can also email the department at tax.fraud@state.mn.us. Last year, citizen tips resulted in 88 percent of the department’s criminal case referrals. For more information, contact the department’s Cigarette and Tobacco Unit at 651-297-1882.

References: Thousands of Untaxed Cigarette Cartons Seized in Minnesota, Lisa Waldrup, Minnesota Department of Revenue IRS), 8/13/2010; Government seizes untaxed cigarettes in Minnesota by John Vomhof Jr. (jvomhof@bizjournals.com) Staff writer, Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal, 8/16/2010.