Petersburg cracking down on businesses for avoiding cigarette taxes

PETERSBURG, Va (WRIC) — Petersburg’s Commissioner of Revenue is cracking down on business owners who are not paying cigarette taxes.

The commissioner of revenue said she and the city’s Abatement Compliance Enforcement Team is going after 10 businesses in the coming weeks for not paying up.

“We charge 90 cents per pack for cigarette taxes,” Commissioner of Revenue Pamela Hairston explained. “There was a tax increase on the cigarette tax in September that we implemented in October.”

Investigators snatched three big bags of cigarettes from a Valero on South Crater Road Wednesday.

“It can be a class one misdemeanor,” Lt. Chris Walker said.The offense can also come with a $2500 fine and up to 12 months in prison.

The offense can also come with a $2500 fine and up to 12 months in prison.

Hairston said after companies pay the tax, they’re issued a blue and white stamp that they must place on each cigarette pack.

“Valero had stamps that they purchased in 2016,” Hairston said. “They were not on any of the cigarettes in the store.”

“That still is a violation,” added Lt. Chris Walker.Commissioner Hairston said most cigarette sellers in the city buy them from Sam’s Club for convenience.

Commissioner Hairston said most cigarette sellers in the city buy them from Sam’s Club for convenience.

“The Sam’s Club in Colonial Heights will charge the cigarette tax, and in turn, the business owner will have to bring the paid receipt from Sam’s Club to our office in order to receive the stamps,” Hairston said. “This isn’t something that I like doing, but to bring the businesses into compliance is something that has to be done.”

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