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.
EITC – Helping Low and Moderate Income Families in MA posted on Jan 29
EITC, also known as the Earned Income Tax Credit, has been helping low to moderate income families in Massachusetts and across the country for over 40 years. In recent months, Governor Charlie Baker and members of the Legislature have worked hard to ensure that working …Continue Reading EITC – Helping Low and Moderate Income Families in MA
DOR Homepage gets a facelift posted on Jan 14
Today, DOR unveiled a brand new homepage intended to making it easier for taxpayers to find what they’re looking for when it comes to filing and paying their state taxes. DOR’s communications team used consumer insights and online analytics to better understand how taxpayers use the site, …Continue Reading DOR Homepage gets a facelift
Did You Know Home Heating Oil is Mass Sales Tax Exempt? posted on Jan 14
In preparation for the winter months, we want to remind you that home heating oil is exempt from Massachusetts sales tax. This winter season, DOR wants you to be prepared. Here’s what you need to know when purchasing your home heating oil: Who is exempt …Continue Reading Did You Know Home Heating Oil is Mass Sales Tax Exempt?