Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Revenue has placed a lien against me in excess of $5,000. for Cigarette Tax Liability for purchase of cigarettes over the past several years by telephone (a 1-800 number). I purchased the cigarettes under the assumption they were from a legal source- Indian reservation- which never charged me tax. I believed this to be legal. I was never asked by the "seller" to pay taxes. When I inquired of the seller, I was told the cigarettes were non-taxable because they were being purchased from this source. Now the State wants to collect taxes from me. I believe the "seller" to be the liable one since they were supposed to collect the tax if appropriate or required by law. How can the State of PA come after me, when I was not aware that what I was doing was wrong? I cannot wrap my mind around this one. Can you at least provide me with some preliminary advice. This is a real hardship for me to get this kind of bill, which I believe should have been sent to the "seller" who failed to collect tax and deceived me into thinking it was OK and legal. I anxiously await your response. In advance, thank you!
1 Answer from Attorneys
Unfortunately you are wrong. There is a Use Tax on all cigarette purchases. If you purchase them from an out of state vendor (ie. telephone or internet) who does not collect PA tax, you are responsible for reporting the purchase to the Department of Revenue and paying the applicable tax. In most jurisdictions, the vendor does not have an obligation to collect taxes if the product is being directly shipped out of the state. The responsibility belongs to you and not the vendor.
Good luck, Dan