Q:

Can you buy tax-free Indian reservation cigarettes online?

A:

Quick Answer

The ability to buy tax-free cigarettes online from Indian reservations varies by state, but in most cases it is illegal for sellers or buyers of cigarettes to avoid state taxes. States that do not tax cigarettes generally enforce Internet bans to prevent minors from obtaining them.

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Full Answer

States that tax cigarettes tend to enforce their laws strictly and use a variety of methods of enforcement. Some states, such as Rhode Island, periodically raid American Indian smoke shops to prevent tribes from selling tax-free cigarettes. Other states, like New York, prevent companies such as FedEx or UPS from delivering shipments of cigarettes ordered through the Internet. Many of these states have had reservation's sites shut down or blocked by Internet service providers.

For most items, the buyer must declare and pay the appropriate taxes for items purchased online or out-of-state, and most states rely on the honor system for consumers to do this, but revenue from cigarette taxes is substantial enough for most state governments to take a very strong pro-active approach to prevent consumers from purchasing them tax-free. Some states, such as Illinois and Michigan, even send bills to consumers who have purchased tax-free cigarettes online.

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