The state of Utah is mailing notices to 250 residents who purchased cigarettes on the Internet, demanding payment of more than $130,000 in sales tax, according to a report in the Deseret News.
"If you're buying over the Internet, we are going to be assessing you," said Rod Marrelli, executive director of the Utah State Tax Commission. "You're being reported -- now pay up the tax. It's only fair to the other people who are buying them at the grocery store and paying the tax."
The commission recently gathered lists of purchasers from the online stores that sold the cigarettes. Buyers are being told to pay the state's 69.5-cent tax plus a 10-percent penalty for failing to pay the tax upon purchase. First-time offenders, however, can have the penalty waived.
To track down online buyers, states have increasingly been taking advantage of a federal law that requires companies that ship cigarettes across state borders to give buyers' names and addresses to state tax agencies. Marrelli said some buyers were purchasing hundreds of packs of cigarettes, suggesting that they may not be for personal use.