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New York to Padlock Retailers Selling Illegal Cigarettes

  • Oct 16, 2013 | Gail Cole

 Don't let your business be padlocked over cigarettes.

Anyone selling cigarettes in New York State would do well to head these warnings:

  • Don’t sell cigarettes without sales tax;
  • Don’t sell cigarettes without a retail cigarette license;
  • Don’t sell cigarettes without health warnings;
  • Don’t possess or sell counterfeit-stamped cigarettes; and
  • Don’t sell cigarettes to minors.

If you don’t do these things, you may be able to stay in business. Do them and you may find your business closed as a public nuisance, like Quicklane Candy Store, also known as Fastline Tobacco Inc. So says Mayor Michael Bloomberg

This stance is a result of a two-year investigation into illegal cigarette activity conducted by the Office of the New York City Sheriff, in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement, and the City’s Law Department. It is the “first in a comprehensive effort by the City to root out stores selling bootleg cigarettes.”

Mayor Bloomberg had this to say about the crackdown: “Selling cigarettes to minors is never acceptable and counterfeit and untaxed cigarettes poison the stream of commerce, hurting retailers who play by the rules and posing a greater danger to consumers.” Shuttering businesses guilty of these actions protects youth and responsible businesses.

Businesses that have been closed or “padlocked” may remain that way “for as long as one year.” In the case of Quickline Candy Store, in addition to the permanent injunction against the continuation of the nuisance, the City is seeking “statutory penalties of up to $1,000 for each day that the nuisance continued” may be imposed on the store and its principals. Ouch.

The leaders of New York are playing hardball with people who don’t pay their taxes and don’t abide by the law. This summer, Governor Cuomo called delinquent taxpayers “scofflaws” and told them they needed to pay their taxes or park their car, because their licenses would be suspended. Now Mayor Bloomberg is threatening to padlock stores where cigarettes are sold illegally.

The lesson is clear: abide by the law in New York, or else….

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Sales tax rates, rules, and regulations change frequently. Although we hope you'll find this information helpful, this blog is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal or tax advice.
Gail Cole
Avalara Author
Gail Cole
Gail Cole
Avalara Author Gail Cole
Gail began researching and writing about sales tax in 2012 and has been fascinated with it ever since. She has a penchant for uncovering unusual tax facts, and endeavors to make complex sales tax laws more digestible for both experts and laypeople.