'Roll-your-own' cigarette shop sued for tax evasion
A "roll-your-own" cigarette business with stores in Manhattan and Staten Island is being sued by the city for allegedly evading tax laws, officials announced Monday.
Island Smokes allegedly skirted cigarette tax rules by selling tobacco and rolling paper and providing equipment for people to assemble their own cigarettes for a fraction of the price of what they would cost pre-packaged, according to the city's complaint.
"They are trying to get around the law by claiming they're not in the business of selling cigarettes when they clearly are," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement.
While a pack of cigarettes goes for more than $11 in the city after $5.85 in taxes are tacked on, Island Smokes ran ads offering a pack for as little as $2.95.
Jonathan Behrins, a lawyer for the company, said it should not have to pay the taxes because they are not manufacturing cigarettes or selling manufactured cigarettes.