Rhode Island retailers finding ways to avoid paying tobacco tax..

May 1, 2009 - The state tax in Rhode Island on cigarettes just was increased to $3.46 a pack, the highest in the nation. WPRI 12 Target 12 investigators have discovered some retailers will go to great lengths to pocket the tax money instead of paying it.

Dishonest retailers often buy cigarettes from Virginia where the tax is just 30 cents, then scratch the Virginia name away and sell the cigarettes at Rhode Island prices, pocketing more than 2 bucks a pack. The Virginia's stamp is almost identical to Rhode Island's. Rhode Island is in the midst of changing its tax stamp to make it more unique.

A state investigator visited 750 retailers last year, seizing cigarettes and making more than a dozen arrests. The Target 12 Investigators uncovered tax dollars going up in smoke in the two stores visited. They confronted cigarette sellers after discovering some may not be honest in paying cigarette taxes. - click on image below to listen to the video..

The legality of purchasing cigarettes (tobacco products) over the telephone, by mail order, or over the internet - frequently asked questions..

Reference: Cigarette tax cash going up in smoke RI changing tax stamp, making it more unique, Melissa Sardelli Reported by: Alex Diprato, WPRI.com, 5/1/2009.