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Buy cigarettes online, pay state taxes, like it or not

Connecticut smokers who shop online are in for an unwelcome surprise.

The state tax agency is sending letters to state residents who bought smokes online to avoid stiff Connecticut taxes, the Associated Press reports.

Generally states aren't that aggressive about collecting state sales and use taxes, which is why you can buy items through mail order and not have to worry, as a practical matter, about the state taxocrats sniffing around.

But as I wrote about in a column, cigarettes are an exception.

A 1949 law called the Jenkins Act says anyone who ships cigarettes nationally must file monthly reports with each state tax collector listing "the name and address of the person to whom the shipment was made, the brand, and the quantity thereof."

That gives state tax collectors an easy way to collect unpaid taxes. Moral of this story: Drive to a lower-tax state and buy your smokes there in person. Or use a prepaid credit card and an alias if you can't kick the habit.