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January 4, 2011 > California adopts improved cigarette tax stamp

California adopts improved cigarette tax stamp

Submitted By Anita Gore

Improved high-tech tax stamps with a new design, affixed to packs of cigarettes sold in California, will further reduce trafficking of counterfeit cigarettes and related excise tax evasion, estimated at $182M annually. The State Board of Equalization (BOE) is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the tax stamp program.

The upgraded tax stamp, introduced on January 1, 2011, is gold-yellow in appearance, with a color-shifting effect visible on the left edge and a unique serial number. The design is tamper-resistant design and will facilitate authentication and discourage tax stamp-counterfeiting.

Cigarette and tobacco taxes are "excise" taxes, or charges paid at the point of distribution and often built into the retail price, help fund state services and programs such as breast cancer research, early childhood education, health education and hospital services.

High-tech tax stamps were originally introduced in California in 2005 as required by SB 1701 (2002). Additionally, AB 71 (California Cigarette and Tobacco Products Licensing Act 2003) established a state-wide program to license sellers of cigarettes and tobacco products. In 2007, AB 1749 expanded the Licensing Act's provisions to introduce licensing requirements for manufacturers and importers of tobacco products and made the provisions of the Licensing Act permanent.

The high-tech tax stamp and other BOE enforcement efforts aim to reduce evasion of total cigarette-related sales and excise taxes by $133M each year.

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