Revenue officials propose steeper penalties for illegal tobacco trade
The Massachusetts Department of Revenue is recommending increasing the penalties related to buying and selling tobacco that has not been properly taxed. For example, the penalty for selling cigarettes without a license would jump from a fine of $50 to a maximum fine of $50,000, with the potential for jail time.
The goal is to crack down on the black market, which is used to evade paying Massachusetts excise taxes.
"Over the past several months, the Illegal Tobacco Task Force has been working on a framework for collaboration and joint investigative and enforcement action by its member agencies," said Nicole St. Peter Mac Dermott, a Department of Revenue spokeswoman. "The mission of the task force is to stem the flow of illegal tobacco products into Massachusetts and the resulting loss of state tax revenue.
"The task force will work with the governor and state Legislature to update and modernize the state's tobacco tax laws to stiffen fines and penalties so that they act as an effective deterrent to unlawful activity and increase compliance."