I guess we've finally succeeded in making ordinary criminals out of ordinary smokers.
State of Tennessee
Department of Revenue
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: SOPHIE MOERY
September 21, 2007 (615) 741-2461 (office)
(615) 545-1734 (cell)
REVENUE plans for cigarette surveillance at state line
Transporting more than two cartons across state line is illegal
NASHVILLE, Tenn. ¾ The Tennessee Department of Revenue’s Special Investigations Section will be conducting surveillance of out-of-state tobacco retailers located near the state line for Tennessee residents purchasing cigarettes. On July 1, 2007, Tennessee’s cigarette tax increased from 20 cents per pack to 62 cents per pack.
“As a result of this legislation, Tennesseans may travel to neighboring states to purchase cigarettes in order to avoid paying Tennessee cigarette tax,” said Revenue Commissioner Reagan Farr. “Tennesseans should know that the law requires cigarettes purchased outside of the state to bear a Tennessee tobacco stamp, otherwise the cigarettes may be considered contraband.”
Possessing more than 20 packs (or two cartons) of cigarettes not bearing Tennessee revenue stamps is a misdemeanor. Such products and any vehicle(s) used to transport them are subject to seizure. Possession of more than 25 cartons of untaxed cigarettes is a Class E felony.
“If Revenue agents believe that an individual is transporting more than two cartons of cigarettes into Tennessee, the vehicle carrying the cigarettes will be stopped and searched,” Commissioner Farr said. “If more than two cartons are found, the cigarettes will be seized and agents have the discretion to make arrests and seize the vehicle.”
Public Chapter 368 increased the tax on cigarettes from $0.20 to $0.62 per pack. Additional revenue from the increase is earmarked for education (approximately $195 million annually), agricultural enhancements ($21 million annually) and trauma centers statewide ($12 million annually). The Department of Revenue administers the collection and enforcement of Tennessee tobacco taxes.
The Department of Revenue is responsible for the administration of state tax laws and motor vehicle title and registration laws established by the legislature and the collection of taxes and fees associated with those laws. The Department of Revenue collects approximately 92 percent of total state tax revenue. During the 2006-2007 fiscal year, the department collected $11.0 billion in state taxes and fees. In addition to collecting state taxes, $1.9 billion of local sales tax was collected by the department for local governments during the 2006-2007 fiscal year. Besides collecting taxes, the department enforces the revenue laws fairly and impartially in an effort to encourage voluntary taxpayer compliance. The department also apportions revenue collections for distribution to the various state funds and local units of government. To learn more about the department, log on to www.Tennessee.gov/revenue.
This press release can be accessed online at http://state.tn.us/revenue/newsreleases/2007/cigenforce.htm.