May 5, 2008 - Smokers Billed for
Cigarette and Sales Taxes on Internet Purchases
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio smokers who’ve gone
online in search of cheap cigarettes may find out that it
cost them more than they anticipated. This week, the Ohio
Department of Taxation has begun mailing letters that bill
Internet purchasers for unpaid cigarette excise and sales
The department is mailing out a total of 5,469 bills over the
next few weeks for a total of $2,153,775 in uncollected
cigarette and sales taxes. These bills represent the Ohio
taxes due – but unpaid – on cigarette purchases made online
between July 2007 and March 2008.
“Our goal here is to enforce the law, out of fairness to
consumers who do play by the rules and to Ohio business
owners who are operating responsibly,” Tax Commissioner
Richard A. Levin said.
An individual in northern Ohio is receiving the largest
single bill, totaling $2,700. Most of the bills are $600 or
The federal Jenkins Act requires vendors who sell cigarettes
across state lines to report those sales to the states in
which the sales are made. The department asked for and
received the names, addresses, and quantities of cigarettes
sold to Ohio customers by five Internet vendors.
Ohio law requires that all sales of cigarettes in the state
be made “face-to-face,” which means they cannot legally be
purchased via the Internet. The last time the state billed
for unpaid cigarette taxes, in 2006, it collected $568,807
from 1,610 individuals for online purchases made since 2002.
Cigarettes sold in Ohio are subject to both excise and sales
taxes. The current state excise tax on a pack of cigarettes
is $1.25. There is an additional tax of 34.5 cents per pack
in Cuyahoga County. The state sales tax rate is 5.5 percent,
plus additional county and transit authority “piggyback”
sales taxes that add between 0.5 and 2.25 percentage points,
depending on the location. These taxes are due on all
purchases on which they have not already been paid.
MEDIA CONTACT: Mike McKinney at (614)