Internet Cigarette Sales: Giving ATF Investigative Authority May Improve Reporting and Enforcement
GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE WASHINGTON DC
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The Jenkins Act 15 U. S. C. 375-378 requires any person who sells and ships cigarettes across a state line to a buyer, other than a licensed distributor, to report the sale to the buyers state tobacco tax administrator. The act establishes misdemeanor penalties for violating the act. Compliance with this federal law by cigarette sellers enables states to collect cigarette excise taxes from consumers. However, some state and federal officials are concerned that as Internet cigarette sales continue to grow, particularly as states cigarette taxes increase, so will the amount of lost state tax revenue due to noncompliance with the Jenkins Act. One research firm estimated that Internet tobacco sales in the United States will exceed 5 billion in 2005 and that the states will lose about 1.4 billion in tax revenue from these sales.
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