When Carmine Santoro started working at DOR in 1974, the state tax on a pack of cigarettes was 16 cents. Eight tax hikes later, retailers and suppliers must now collect $3.51 a pack and file monthly tax returns to the state. Santoro has helped the Department administer every one of those tax law changes, earning him the affectionate nickname “Mr. Tobacco” by both colleagues and the taxpayers he has worked with over the last 39 years.
Santoro’s first and only assignment has been in tobacco tax audit where he established long standing relationships within the Massachusetts tobacco industry, in some cases working with three generations of taxpayers who operated wholesaler businesses or mom-and-pop retail outlets.
“When you go out there and you’re doing an audit, you get to know people,” said Santoro. “Nothing too personal, but you do get to know some of them after a while.”
Santoro described his approach to the job and the taxpayers he dealt with this way, “I’m like an umpire. I have the law and I just have to treat it the way it’s supposed to be. I’ve treated everybody equally. I think on the whole most people want to do what they’re supposed to and do the best they can.”
While tax rates and auditing policies may have changed over the years, Santoro said the number one problem in the tobacco industry has remained the same–cigarette bootlegging.
“We went to encrypted stamps two to three years ago,” he said. “It’s a high level stamp and we have found some counterfeits, but not too many. Personally, I think the biggest problem is casual smuggling. People go up to New Hampshire to avoid taxes.”
Santoro will retire before Revenue Commissioner Amy Pitter convenes a new commission this fall to examine the extent of revenue loss from the illegal tobacco market. But he expects to continue getting questions about the tobacco trade from co-workers and taxpayers alike well after he leaves public service.
If you have questions about the new tax law on cigarettes, motor fuels or computer software services which took effect July 31, 2013 go to www.mass.gov/dor/newtaxinfo.
It’s All About Plain Talk posted on Aug 13
Commissioner Amy Pitter wants to be sure that the information going out of DOR to taxpayers is clear and concise. If you received a bill, form or notice from the Department of Revenue and are having trouble understanding what actions you need to take, tell …Continue Reading It’s All About Plain Talk
Take a survey — Your feedback impacts how DOR does business posted on Aug 4
The Department of Revenue wants to hear from taxpayers and anyone who is advocating for taxpayers! DOR has just unveiled its new “How Are We Doing?” survey page, and we’d like you to report in on your customer service experience. This page was created to …Continue Reading Take a survey — Your feedback impacts how DOR does business
DOR + Social Media — #CheckUsOut posted on Jul 28
State tax administration might not deliver such seismic news events as LeBron’s eagerly-awaited announcement of his return to his old Cleveland team, but knowing what’s going on at any given moment in the tax world could save you some time and effort, and maybe …Continue Reading DOR + Social Media — #CheckUsOut