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Spotsylvania preparing to implement new cigarette tax

Spotsylvania preparing to implement new cigarette tax

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The cost of a pack of cigarettes could go up 30 cents in Spotsylvania County.

September is the last month cigarettes can be bought without paying a new tax in Spotsylvania County.

The county’s new tax on smokes takes effect Oct. 1. The new tax will add 30 cents to the cost of a 20-cigarette pack, or .02 cents per cigarette in packs with more than 20.

The county anticipates collecting $310,000 annually in revenue from the tax, which was included in the fiscal 2022 budget approved earlier this year by the board.

County store owners spoke against the tax during a June public hearing, saying it would hurt their businesses and could cost their employees their jobs because customers will buy their cigarettes at stores in surrounding counties that do not have the tax. The store owners also said the drop in cigarette sales would mean less revenue for the county, not more.

The board voted 5–2 to approve the tax, with Supervisors Chris Yakabouski and Tim Mclaughlin dissenting. The board also voted to designate the county a member of the Northern Virginia Cigarette Tax Board, which will collect the taxes and handle enforcement.

Vendors need to be approved by the board and pay a yearly registration fee along with posting a surety bond. The new ordinance limits cigarette sales to only registered and licensed retail stores. Vending machines also are covered by the ordinance.

Violating the ordinance is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which carries a fine of $2,500 or a year in jail.

According to the county, those vendors are “liable for the tax must affix stamps to unstamped cigarette packages beginning within one hour of receiving them, collect and pay the tax, report to the NVCTB all information required by the NVCTB, pay taxes on lost or stolen cigarettes, and submit to audits and inspections.”

Spotsylvania follows other area localities in imposing the local cigarette tax. Fredericksburg also levies a 30-cent local tax on a pack of cigarettes and King George County began imposing a local tax of 40 cents per pack in July.

Stafford supervisors considered a 30-cent tax on cigarettes earlier this year, but deferred action until the county is accepted onto the Northern Virginia Cigarette Tax Board.

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436

sshenk@freelancestar.com

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