Illegal Tobacco Task Force

Illegal Tobacco Task Force is a multi-agency task force created to combat illegal tobacco distribution and the resulting loss of revenue to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
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Who We Are

The Illegal Tobacco Task Force (Task Force) was created by the state Legislature in 2015 to address the problem of illegal tobacco distribution in the Commonwealth and the loss of millions of dollars of legitimate tax revenues to the state every year.  The Task Force is co-chaired by designees from the Department of Revenue and the State Police and also consists of designees from the Department of Public Health, the Attorney General’s Office, the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security and the Office of the Treasurer and Receiver General.

The current designees serving on the Task Force are as follows:

  • Kajal Chattopadhyay (Co-Chair) (Department of Revenue designee)
  • Steven Fennessy (Co-Chair) (State Police designee)
  • Thomas Bocian (Attorney General designee)
  • Amber Villa (Attorney General designee)
  • Christy Fedor (Department of Public Health designee)
  • Patricia Henley (Department of Public designee)
  • Doug Levine (Executive Office of Public Safety and Security designee)
  • Michael Sweeney (State Treasurer and Receiver General designee)

What We Do

While illegal tobacco distribution takes on many forms, the variations share one common element: failure to pay the required tobacco excise and sales taxes due on tobacco products sold in the Commonwealth.  In many cases, individuals purchase tobacco products in bulk from states with no or very low tobacco taxes, transport those products to Massachusetts and sell them to unscrupulous Massachusetts tobacco retailers who, in turn, sell them to Massachusetts customers without charging the applicable Massachusetts tobacco excise and/or sales taxes.   

The Task Force conducts targeted investigations and enforcement actions against violators of the Commonwealth’s tobacco laws through information sharing among member agencies.  In addition, the Task Force assesses existing investigative and enforcement methods in the Commonwealth and in other jurisdictions and makes recommendations to the Legislature and policymakers for improvements to those methods.

The Task Force conducts open public meetings on a regular basis to discuss current issues relating to investigations and enforcement.  As required by statute, the Task Force issues an Annual Report to the Legislature once per year.

Records of Public Meetings

2017

2018

Reports

Task Force Report 1
May 27, 2016

Task Force Report 2
July 1, 2016

Task Force Annual Report
March 1, 2017

Task Force Annual Report
March 1, 2018

Recent Cases

6/29/18: Winchester Man Arraigned in Connection With State Investigation Into Tobacco Tax Fraud

4/27/18: Man Indicted in Connection With Evading $13 Million in Taxes Through Sale of Untaxed Tobacco Products

Contact

To report any suspicious activity relating to the sale of tobacco products in the Commonwealth, contact the Department of Revenue’s Audit Fraud Hotline at (617) 887-6350.

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