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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 89493
Experience:  JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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I JUST RECIEVED A LETTER FROM THE MARYLAND COMPTROLLERS OFFICE

Customer Question

I JUST RECIEVED A LETTER FROM THE MARYLAND COMPTROLLERS OFFICE CONCERNING CIGARETTES I BOUGHT ONLINE. THEY ARE DEMANDING A PAYMENT OF $3700 IMMEDIATELY (WITHIN 20 DAYS OF THE NOTICE DATE-AUGUST 29, 2011). SEVERAL MONTHS AGO I RECIEVED THE SAME TYPE OF NOTICE AND PAID ABOUT $500 IN BACK TAXES. THIS WAS THE FIRST TIME I WAS AWARE THAT IT WAS AGAINST MARYLAND LAW TO PURCHASE CIGARETTES OVER THE INTERNET. SINCE MY WIFE(DISABLED) AND I ARE BOTH RETIRED FROM THE STATE OF MARYLAND AND COLLECTING PENSIONS THIS IS A VERY BIG FINANCIAL PROBLEM. BETWEEN OUR RETIREMENT BENEFITS AND MY WIFE'S SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY PAYMENTS, WE GET ABOUT $2200 A MONTH. IN ADDITION WE ALSO COLLECT ABOUT $1100 A MONTH FROM SAVINGS AND MY 457 RETIREMENT PLAN (WHICH WILL ONLY LAST ABOUT ANOTHER 15 MONTHS). WE BOTH FEEL THAT THIS IS AN UNFAIR LAW AND WE SHOULD NOT BE PENALIZED FOR TRYING TO SAVE MONEY. THIS LAW TRIES TO CONTROL A HABIT WHICH WE KNOW IS NOT HEALTHY, BUT IS OUR PERSONAL CHOICE. WE DO NOT THINK THE STATE SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO TELL US HOW TO LIVE, WHEN MANY OTHER HEALTH PROBLEMS ARE CAUSED BY OBESITY ($10.00 BIG MACS?) OR ALCOHOL ($10.00 PER SIX PACK). I'M SURE MANY OTHER MARYLAND RESIDENTS HAVE THIS SAME PROBLEM AND MAY HAVE HAD TO BORROW OR WITHDRAW FROM SAVINGS TO PAY THIS TYPE OF TAX. DO WE HAVE ANY OPTIONS AS FAR AS PAYING THIS TAX, OR DO WE NEED TO TAKE MONEY FROM SAVINGS TO AVOID A TAX ASSESSMANT, PENALTIES AND INTEREST AS THREATENED IN THE LETTER? I ALSO NOTICED THAT WE WE'RE ASSESSED $462.40 SALES TAX ON PURCHASES TOTALING $4386.61 (BEFORE THE CIGARETTE TAX WAS ADDED). THIS MEANS WE WE'RE CHARGED NOT ONLY ON THE PURCHASE PRICE, BUT ALSO ON THE CIGARETTE TAX. IS IT LEGAL TO CHARGE TAX ON TAX? MY WIFE AND I ARE VERY WORRIED ABOUT HOW TO GET THE MONEY TO PAY THIS, AND HAVE EVEN DISCUSSED CANCELLING PURCHASES OF CHRISTMAS PRESENTS THIS YEAR. ANY HELP YOU WOULD GIVE US WOULD BE GREATLY APPRECIATED. XXXX XXXXXXX XXXX XXXXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXXXXX,XX, XX XXXXX-XXXX XXX-XXX-XXXXXXX@XXXXXX.XXXXXX@XXXXXX.XXX
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
While you may believe it to be an unfair law, I get clients in my office at least 3-5 times a week with similar letters and the problem is that the law mandates payment of state tobacco tax on all cigarettes and circumventing that tax can lead to going to jail if you refuse to pay. Internet purchases of tobacco products avoiding the state tax is fraud and the states in this poor economy are refusing to budge on even negotiating these taxes. If you can prove you did not buy as much as they claimed you bought, then you can get them to reduce the amount due, but outside of that all you can do is negotiate a repayment plan because going to court against them could lead to criminal tax evasion charges against you. The additional money was not tax on tax it was a penalty/interest for not paying the tax when you made the purchase.


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