According to a recent report, a man from out-of-state has been accused of traveling over state lines with what authorities described as contraband cigarettes. He was detained by agents of the state Comptroller, who helps enforce Maryland's excise tax laws. Among other items, Maryland places taxes on cigarettes.
One of the charges the man faces is a felony. Authorities claim that, upon searching the suspect's vehicle, they found almost 3,000 packs of cigarettes. Their market value was just over $18,000, and agents calculated that the loss in revenue to the state was $5,640.
It is important for business owners and even some individuals to understand their obligations under Maryland's excise tax laws. As this story shows, authorities take tax collection seriously, and they are willing to file criminal charges against those who, to their mind, were trying to beat the system.
Moreover, other non-criminal penalties may apply. For instance, in the case of cigarettes, cartons which do not have the proper stamp on them may be taken from the rightful owner as contraband since they were, at least on the surface, not taxed. Moreover, as is the case here, a person can also lose the vehicle he or she was using to transport such items.
While simple mistakes on taxes might be forgivable, a pattern of errors or something that looks "fishy" may result in a business owner facing one or more felony allegations of white collar crime. The consequences of being convicted on such charges are serious, not to mention the damage one might suffer to a professional reputation after being accused of what amounts to tax evasion. A strong defense to charges such as these is generally a good idea.