News Releases

News Release

March 11, 2005  -  Columbus, Ohio  - Cigarette Enforcement Sweep Finds Cincinnati-area Spotless- Tax Enforcement Agents find only 3 minor infractions

COLUMBUS, Mar. 11 – Recent inspections by Ohio Department of Taxation (ODT) Enforcement agents of 75 cigarette and other tobacco products retail outlets in the Cincinnati area found that retailers are generally following Ohio law by only offering cigarettes for sale that display the proper Ohio cigarette tax stamp.

“That’s good news,” said Ohio Tax Commissioner William W. Wilkins. “The inspections clearly show that the vast majority of merchants in Cincinnati are following the tax law on cigarette sales.” Agents found only three minor license infractions.

Wilkins said the inspections in the Cincinnati-area are part of an on-going effort across Ohio to make sure all vendors are selling cigarettes displaying the correct tax stamps. The Ohio tax on a pack of cigarettes is 55 cents. Money from the tax goes into Ohio’s general fund, the fund that pays for most state government services. Merchants must also charge sales tax on cigarette sales.

ODT’s Enforcement Division conducts about 100 inspections of retail outlets throughout Ohio each month, and they assist the Ohio Attorney General’s Office in enforcing the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) to ensure cigarettes sold in Ohio are allowed to be sold in the state under the MSA.

Wilkins said these retail outlet inspections are just one step ODT takes to enforce Ohio’s cigarette and other tobacco products tax laws. Another major initiative is to assess the cigarette tax on consumers who purchase cigarettes off the Internet, or from other outlets outside Ohio, on which cigarette taxes are not collected or remitted to Ohio by the seller.

“I want to remind people in Ohio that if they buy cigarettes on which tax has not been collected, then they are responsible for paying the tax,” Wilkins said.

ODT last week began mailing nearly 1,200 individual letters that assessed a total of $93,018 in taxes on such cigarette purchases. The highest individual tax bill is $803.

“We know who these people are because of a federal law that requires companies, such as Internet firms, to provide the names, addresses and number of cigarettes purchased by persons in Ohio,” Wilkins said.

“We will collect the tax,” the Tax Commissioner emphasized. “So, if you buy cigarettes from a merchant out of Ohio that’s not collecting and remitting Ohio cigarette taxes, don’t be surprised when you get a bill from this department.”

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(For more information, contact Gary Gudmundson, ODT Communications Director, at 614-644-6903.)