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2000 SESSION


CHAPTER 901
An Act to amend and reenact 4.1-105, 58.1-3, 58.1-1009 and 59.1-200 of the Code of Virginia and to amend the Code of Virginia by adding in Title 58.1 a chapter numbered 10.1, consisting of sections numbered 58.1-1031 through 58.1-1037, relating to sale of cigarettes produced for export; penalties.
[S 653]
Approved April 9, 2000

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. That 4.1-105, 58.1-3, 58.1-1009 and 59.1-200 of the Code of Virginia are amended and reenacted and that the Code of Virginia is amended by adding in Title 58.1 a chapter numbered 10.1, consisting of sections numbered 58.1-1031 through 58.1-1037, as follows:

4.1-105. Police power of members, agents and employees of Board.

Members of the Board are vested, and such agents and employees of the Board designated by it shall be vested, with like power to enforce the provisions of (i) this title and the criminal laws of the Commonwealth as is vested in the chief law-enforcement officer of a county, city, or town and; (ii) 18.2-371.2; and (iii) 58.1-1037.

58.1-3. Secrecy of information; penalties.

A. Except in accordance with a proper judicial order or as otherwise provided by law, the Tax Commissioner or agent, clerk, commissioner of the revenue, treasurer, or any other state or local tax or revenue officer or employee, or any former officer or employee of any of the aforementioned offices shall not divulge any information acquired by him in the performance of his duties with respect to the transactions, property, including personal property, income or business of any person, firm or corporation. Such prohibition specifically includes any copy of a federal return or federal return information required by Virginia law to be attached to or included in the Virginia return. Any person violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor. The provisions of this subsection shall not be applicable, however, to:

1. Matters required by law to be entered on any public assessment roll or book;

2. Acts performed or words spoken or published in the line of duty under the law;

3. Inquiries and investigations to obtain information as to the process of real estate assessments by a duly constituted committee of the General Assembly, or when such inquiry or investigation is relevant to its study, provided that any such information obtained shall be privileged;

4. The sales price, date of construction, physical dimensions or characteristics of real property, or any information required for building permits;

5. Copies of or information contained in an estate's probate tax return, filed with the clerk of court pursuant to 58.1-1714, when requested by a beneficiary of the estate or an heir at law of the decedent.

B. Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to prohibit the publication of statistics so classified as to prevent the identification of particular reports or returns and the items thereof or the publication of delinquent lists showing the names of taxpayers who are currently delinquent, together with any relevant information which in the opinion of the Department may assist in the collection of such delinquent taxes. This section shall not be construed to prohibit a local tax official from disclosing whether a person, firm or corporation is licensed to do business in that locality and divulging, upon written request, the name and address of any person, firm or corporation transacting business under a fictitious name. Additionally, notwithstanding any other provision of law, the commissioner of revenue is authorized to provide, upon written request stating the reason for such request, the Tax Commissioner with information obtained from local tax returns and other information pertaining to the income, sales and property of any person, firm or corporation licensed to do business in that locality.

C. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection A or B or any other provision of this title, the Tax Commissioner is authorized to: (i) divulge tax information to any commissioner of the revenue, director of finance or other similar collector of county, city or town taxes who, for the performance of his official duties, requests the same in writing setting forth the reasons for such request; (ii) provide to the Commissioner of the Department of Social Services, upon written request, information on the amount of income reported by persons on their state income tax returns who have applied for public assistance benefits as defined in 63.1-87; (iii) provide to the chief executive officer of the designated student loan guarantor for the Commonwealth of Virginia, upon written request, the names and home addresses of those persons identified by the designated guarantor as having delinquent loans guaranteed by the designated guarantor; (iv) provide current address information upon request to state agencies and institutions for their confidential use in facilitating the collection of accounts receivable, and to the clerk of a circuit or district court for their confidential use in facilitating the collection of fines, penalties and costs imposed in a proceeding in that court; (v) provide to the Commissioner of the Virginia Employment Commission, after entering into a written agreement, such tax information as may be necessary to facilitate the collection of unemployment taxes and overpaid benefits; (vi) provide to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, upon entering into a written agreement, such tax information as may be necessary to facilitate the collection of state and local taxes and the administration of the alcoholic beverage control laws; (vii) provide to the Director of the State Lottery Department such tax information as may be necessary to identify those lottery ticket retailers who owe delinquent taxes; (viii) provide to the Department of the Treasury for its confidential use such tax information as may be necessary to facilitate the location of owners of unclaimed property; (ix) provide to the State Corporation Commission, upon entering into a written agreement, such tax information as may be necessary to facilitate the collection of taxes and fees administered by the Commission; (x) provide to the Executive Director of the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission for its confidential use such tax information as may be necessary to facilitate the collection of the motor vehicle fuel sales tax; (xi) provide to the Executive Secretary of the Charitable Gaming Commission such tax information as may be necessary to identify those applicants for registration as a supplier of charitable gaming supplies who have not filed required returns or who owe delinquent taxes; (xii) provide to the Department of Housing and Community Development for its confidential use such tax information as may be necessary to facilitate the administration of the Enterprise Zone Act ( 59.1-270 et seq.); (xiii) provide current name and address information to private collectors entering into a written agreement with the Tax Commissioner, for their confidential use when acting on behalf of the Commonwealth or any of its political subdivisions; however, the Tax Commissioner is not authorized to provide such information to a private collector who has used or disseminated in an unauthorized or prohibited manner any such information previously provided to such collector; and (xiv) provide upon written request information regarding taxpayers who claim the earned income tax credit for low-income families with children to the Virginia Department of Social Services and the United States Department of Health and Human Services, for their confidential use in collecting any additional information required to document the Commonwealth's compliance with maintenance of effort provisions of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program; and (xv) provide current name and address information as to the identity of the wholesale or retail dealer that affixed a tax stamp to a package of cigarettes to any person who manufactures or sells at retail or wholesale cigarettes and who may bring an action for injunction or other equitable relief for violation of Chapter 10.1, Enforcement of Illegal Sale or Distribution of Cigarettes Act. The Tax Commissioner is further authorized to enter into written agreements with duly constituted tax officials of other states and of the United States for the inspection of tax returns, the making of audits, and the exchange of information relating to any tax administered by the Department of Taxation. Any person to whom tax information is divulged pursuant to this section shall be subject to the prohibitions and penalties prescribed herein as though he were a tax official.

D. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection A or B or any other provision of this title, the commissioner of revenue is authorized to provide, upon written request stating the reason for such request, the chief executive officer of any county or city with information furnished to the commissioner of revenue by the Tax Commissioner relating to the name and address of any dealer located within the county or city who paid sales and use tax, for the purpose of verifying the local sales and use tax revenues payable to the county or city. The commissioner of revenue is authorized to provide to the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation for its confidential use the name, address, and amount of gross receipts of any person, firm or entity subject to a criminal investigation of an unlawful practice of a profession or occupation administered by the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, only after the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation exhausts all other means of obtaining such information. Any person to whom tax information is divulged pursuant to this section shall be subject to the prohibitions and penalties prescribed herein as though he were a tax official.

This section shall not be construed to prohibit a local tax official from imprinting or displaying on a motor vehicle local license decal the year, make, and model and any other legal identification information about the particular motor vehicle for which that local license decal is assigned.

E. Notwithstanding any other provisions of law, state agencies and any other administrative or regulatory unit of state government shall divulge to the Tax Commissioner or his authorized agent, upon written request, the name, address, and social security number of a taxpayer, necessary for the performance of the Commissioner's official duties regarding the administration and enforcement of laws within the jurisdiction of the Department of Taxation. The receipt of information by the Tax Commissioner or his agent which may be deemed taxpayer information shall not relieve the Commissioner of the obligations under this section.

F. Additionally, it shall be unlawful for any person to disseminate, publish, or cause to be published any confidential tax document which he knows or has reason to know is a confidential tax document. A confidential tax document is any correspondence, document, or tax return that is prohibited from being divulged by subsection A, B, C, or D of this section or by 59.1-282.4. This prohibition shall not apply if such confidential tax document has been divulged or disseminated pursuant to a provision of law authorizing disclosure. Any person violating the provisions of this subsection shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.

58.1-1009. Preparation, design and sale of stamps; unlawful sale of stamps a felony.

The Department is hereby authorized and directed to have prepared and to sell stamps suitable for denoting the tax on all cigarettes. The Department shall design, adopt and promulgate the form and kind of stamps to be used. Stamps so adopted and promulgated shall be known as and termed "Virginia revenue stamps," and in any information or indictment, it shall be sufficient to describe the stamps as "Virginia revenue stamps."

Any person other than the Department who sells such revenue stamps, not affixed to cigarettes sold and delivered by them, whether the said stamps be genuine or counterfeit, shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony. When wholesalers have qualified as such with the Department, as provided in 58.1-1011, and purchase stamps as prescribed herein for use on taxable cigarettes sold and delivered by them, the Department shall allow on such sales of revenue stamps a discount of two and one-half cents per carton. As used herein "carton" shall mean ten packs of cigarettes, each containing twenty cigarettes. All stamps prescribed by the Department shall be designed and furnished in such a fashion as to permit identification to the wholesale dealer or retail dealer that affixed the stamp to the particular package of cigarettes, by means of a serial number or other mark on the stamp.

CHAPTER 10.1.
ENFORCEMENT OF ILLEGAL SALE OR DISTRIBUTION OF CIGARETTES ACT.

58.1-1031. Definitions.

As used in this chapter, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Cigarette" means any product that contains nicotine, is intended to be burned or heated under ordinary conditions of use, and consists of or contains (i) any roll of tobacco wrapped in paper or in any substance not containing tobacco; (ii) tobacco, in any form, that is functional in the product, which, because of its appearance, the type of tobacco used in the filler, or its packaging and labeling, is likely to be offered to, or purchased by, consumers as a cigarette; or (iii) any roll of tobacco wrapped in any substance containing tobacco which, because of its appearance, the type of tobacco used in the filler, or its packaging and labeling, is likely to be offered to, or purchased by, consumers as a cigarette described in clause (i) of this definition.

"Department" means the Department of Taxation.

"Importer" means the same as that term is defined in 26 U.S.C. 5702 (1).

"Package" means the same as that term is defined in 15 U.S.C. 1332 (4).

58.1-1032. Applicability.

The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to (i) cigarettes allowed to be imported or brought into the United States for personal use or (ii) cigarettes sold or intended to be sold as duty-free merchandise by a duty-free sales enterprise in accordance with the provisions of 19 U.S.C. 1555 (b) and any implementing regulations. This section, however, shall apply to cigarettes described in clause (ii) that are brought back into the customs territory for resale within the customs territory.

58.1-1033. Prohibited acts.

It shall be unlawful for any person to:

1. Sell or distribute in the Commonwealth, acquire, hold, own, possess, or transport, for sale or distribution in the Commonwealth, or import, or cause to be imported, into the Commonwealth for sale or distribution in the Commonwealth (i) any cigarettes the package of which bears any statement, label, stamp, sticker, or notice indicating that the manufacturer did not intend the cigarettes to be sold, distributed, or used in the United States, including but not limited to labels stating "For Export Only," "U.S. Tax-Exempt," "For Use Outside U.S.," or similar wording; (ii) any cigarettes the package of which does not comply with (a) all requirements imposed by or pursuant to federal law regarding warnings and other information on packages of cigarettes manufactured, packaged, or imported for sale, distribution, or use in the United States, including but not limited to the precise warning labels specified in the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act, 15 U.S.C. 1333, or (b) all federal trademark and copyright laws; (iii) any cigarettes imported into the United States in violation of 26 U.S.C. 5754 or any other federal law or regulations; (iv) any cigarettes that such person otherwise knows or has reason to know the manufacturer did not intend to be sold, distributed, or used in the United States; or (v) any cigarettes for which there has not been submitted to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services the list or lists of the ingredients added to tobacco in the manufacture of such cigarettes required by the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act, 15 U.S.C. 1335a;

2. Alter the package of any cigarettes, prior to sale or distribution to the ultimate consumer, so as to remove, conceal or obscure (i) any statement, label, stamp, sticker, or notice described in clause (i) of subdivision 1 or (ii) any health warning that is not specified in, or does not conform with the requirements of, the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act, 15 U.S.C. 1333; or

3. Affix any stamp required pursuant to Chapter 10 ( 58.1-1000 et seq.) of this title to the package of any cigarettes described in subdivision 1 of this section or altered in violation of subdivision 2 of this section.

58.1-1034. Records to be kept; filing with Department.

A. Any person who acquires, holds, owns, possesses, transports in or imports into the Commonwealth cigarettes which are subject to this chapter shall, with respect to such cigarettes, maintain and keep all records required pursuant to Chapter 10 ( 58.1-1000 et seq.) of this title.

B. Between the first and tenth business day of each month, each person licensed to affix the state tax stamp to cigarettes shall file with the Department, for all cigarettes imported into the United States to which such person has affixed the tax stamp in the preceding month, (i) a copy of the permit issued pursuant to the Internal Revenue Code, 26 U.S.C. 5713, to the person importing such cigarettes into the United States allowing such person to import such cigarettes, and the customs form containing, with respect to such cigarettes, the internal revenue tax information required by the U. S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; (ii) a statement, signed by such person under the penalty of perjury, which shall be treated as confidential by the Department and shall be exempt from disclosure under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act ( 2.1-340 et seq.), identifying the brand and brand styles of all such cigarettes, the quantity of each brand style of such cigarettes, the supplier of such cigarettes, and the person or persons, if any, to whom such cigarettes have been conveyed for resale; and (iii) a statement, signed by an officer of the manufacturer or importer under penalty of perjury, certifying that the manufacturer or importer has complied with the package health warning and ingredient reporting requirements of the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act, 15 U.S.C. 1333 and 1335a, with respect to such cigarettes and 3.1-336.1 and 3.1-336.2 of the Code of Virginia, including a statement indicating whether the manufacturer is, or is not, a participating tobacco manufacturer within the meaning of 3.1-336.1.

58.1-1035. Revocation or suspension of permit by Department; civil penalties; sharing of information.

A. The Department may revoke or suspend the permit of any wholesale dealer, as defined in 58.1-1000, for a violation of this chapter or any rule adopted by the Department as provided in 58.1-1011.

B. In addition, the Department may impose a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed the greater of 500 percent of the retail value of the cigarettes involved or $5,000 upon finding a violation of this chapter and may assess the tax due and any interest on the product acquired, possessed, sold, or offered for sale in violation of this chapter.

C. For the purpose of enforcing this chapter, the Department may request or share information with any federal, state or local agency, including any agency of another state or local agency thereof.

58.1-1036. Other penalties for violation; civil actions.

A. Any violation of 58.1-1033 or 58.1-1034 shall constitute a prohibited practice as provided in 59.1-200, and, in addition to any remedies or penalties set forth in this chapter, shall be subject to any remedies or penalties available for a violation of that section.

B. Any person who commits any of the acts prohibited by 58.1-1033, either knowingly or having reason to know he is doing so, or who fails to comply with any of the requirements of 58.1-1034, shall be guilty of a Class 5 felony.

C. In addition to any other remedy provided by law, any person may bring an action for appropriate injunctive or other equitable relief for a violation of this chapter, for actual damages, if any, sustained by reason of the violation, and, as determined by the court, interest on the damages from the date of the complaint, and taxable costs. If the court finds that the violation was willful, it may increase damages to an amount not exceeding three times the actual damages sustained by reason of the violation.

58.1-1037. Seizure.

Cigarettes that are acquired, held, owned, possessed, transported in, imported into, or sold or distributed in the Commonwealth in violation of this chapter shall be deemed contraband and shall be subject to seizure, forfeiture and destruction. Such cigarettes shall be deemed contraband whether or not the violation of this chapter is with knowledge.

59.1-200. Prohibited practices.

A. The following fraudulent acts or practices committed by a supplier in connection with a consumer transaction are hereby declared unlawful:

1. Misrepresenting goods or services as those of another;

2. Misrepresenting the source, sponsorship, approval, or certification of goods or services;

3. Misrepresenting the affiliation, connection or association of the supplier, or of the goods or services, with another;

4. Misrepresenting geographic origin in connection with goods or services;

5. Misrepresenting that goods or services have certain quantities, characteristics, ingredients, uses, or benefits;

6. Misrepresenting that goods or services are of a particular standard, quality, grade, style, or model;

7. Advertising or offering for sale goods which are used, secondhand, repossessed, defective, blemished, deteriorated, or reconditioned, or which are "seconds," irregulars, imperfects, or "not first class," without clearly and unequivocally indicating in the advertisement or offer for sale that the goods are used, secondhand, repossessed, defective, blemished, deteriorated, reconditioned, or are "seconds," irregulars, imperfects or "not first class";

8. Advertising goods or services with intent not to sell them as advertised, or with intent not to sell at the price or upon the terms advertised.

In any action brought under this subdivision, the refusal by any person, or any employee, agent, or servant thereof, to sell any goods or services advertised or offered for sale at the price or upon the terms advertised or offered, shall be prima facie evidence of a violation of this subdivision. This paragraph shall not apply when it is clearly and conspicuously stated in the advertisement or offer by which such goods or services are advertised or offered for sale, that the supplier or offeror has a limited quantity or amount of such goods or services for sale, and the supplier or offeror at the time of such advertisement or offer did in fact have or reasonably expected to have at least such quantity or amount for sale;

9. Making false or misleading statements of fact concerning the reasons for, existence of, or amounts of price reductions;

10. Misrepresenting that repairs, alterations, modifications, or services have been performed or parts installed;

11. Misrepresenting by the use of any written or documentary material which appears to be an invoice or bill for merchandise or services previously ordered;

12. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, using in any manner the words "wholesale," "wholesaler," "factory," or "manufacturer" in the supplier's name, or to describe the nature of the supplier's business, unless the supplier is actually engaged primarily in selling at wholesale or in manufacturing the goods or services advertised or offered for sale;

13. Using in any contract or lease any liquidated damage clause, penalty clause, or waiver of defense, or attempting to collect any liquidated damages or penalties under any clause, waiver, damages, or penalties which are void or unenforceable under any otherwise applicable laws of this Commonwealth, or under federal statutes or regulations;

14. Using any other deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise, or misrepresentation in connection with a consumer transaction;

15. Violating any provision of 3.1-796.78, 3.1-796.79, or 3.1-796.82, relating to the sale of certain animals by pet dealers which is described in such sections, is a violation of this chapter;

16. Failing to disclose all conditions, charges, or fees relating to:

a. The return of goods for refund, exchange, or credit. Such disclosure shall be by means of a sign attached to the goods, or placed in a conspicuous public area of the premises of the supplier, so as to be readily noticeable and readable by the person obtaining the goods from the supplier. If the supplier does not permit a refund, exchange, or credit for return, he shall so state on a similar sign. The provisions of this subdivision shall not apply to any retail merchant who has a policy of providing, for a period of not less than twenty days after date of purchase, a cash refund or credit to the purchaser's credit card account for the return of defective, unused, or undamaged merchandise upon presentation of proof of purchase. In the case of merchandise paid for by check, the purchase shall be treated as a cash purchase and any refund may be delayed for a period of ten banking days to allow for the check to clear. This subdivision does not apply to sale merchandise which is obviously distressed, out of date, post season, or otherwise reduced for clearance; nor does this subdivision apply to special order purchases where the purchaser has requested the supplier to order merchandise of a specific or unusual size, color, or brand not ordinarily carried in the store or the store's catalog; nor shall this subdivision apply in connection with a transaction for the sale or lease of motor vehicles, farm tractors, or motorcycles as defined in 46.2-100;

b. A layaway agreement. Such disclosure shall be furnished to the consumer (i) in writing at the time of the layaway agreement, or (ii) by means of a sign placed in a conspicuous public area of the premises of the supplier, so as to be readily noticeable and readable by the consumer, or (iii) on the bill of sale. Disclosure shall include the conditions, charges, or fees in the event that a consumer breaches the agreement;

16a. Failing to provide written notice to a consumer of an existing open-end credit balance in excess of five dollars (i) on an account maintained by the supplier and (ii) resulting from such consumer's overpayment on such account. Suppliers shall give consumers written notice of such credit balances within sixty days of receiving overpayments. If the credit balance information is incorporated into statements of account furnished consumers by suppliers within such sixty-day period, no separate or additional notice is required;

17. If a supplier enters into a written agreement with a consumer to resolve a dispute which arises in connection with a consumer transaction, failing to adhere to the terms and conditions of such an agreement;

18. Violating any provision of the Virginia Health Spa Act, Chapter 24 ( 59.1-294 et seq.) of this title;

19. Violating any provision of the Virginia Home Solicitation Sales Act, Chapter 2.1 ( 59.1-21.1 et seq.) of this title;

20. Violating any provision of the Automobile Repair Facilities Act, Chapter 17.1 ( 59.1-207.1 et seq.) of this title;

21. Violating any provision of the Virginia Lease-Purchase Agreement Act, Chapter 17.4 ( 59.1-207.17 et seq.) of this title;

22. Violating any provision of the Prizes and Gifts Act, Chapter 31 ( 59.1-415 et seq.) of this title;

23. Violating any provision of the Virginia Public Telephone Information Act, Chapter 32 ( 59.1-424 et seq.) of this title;

24. Violating any provision of 54.1-1505;

25. Violating any provision of the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers' Warranty Adjustment Act, Chapter 17.6 ( 59.1-207.34 et seq.) of this title;

26. Violating any provision of 3.1-949.1, relating to the pricing of merchandise;

27. Violating any provision of the Pay-Per-Call Services Act, Chapter 33 ( 59.1-429 et seq.) of this title;

28. Violating any provision of the Extended Service Contract Act, Chapter 34 ( 59.1-435 et seq.) of this title;

29. Violating any provision of the Virginia Membership Camping Act, Chapter 25 ( 59.1-311 et seq.) of this title;

30. Violating any provision of the Comparison Price Advertising Act, Chapter 17.7 ( 59.1-207.40 et seq.) of this title;

31. Violating any provision of the Virginia Travel Club Act, Chapter 36 ( 59.1-445 et seq.) of this title;

32. Violating any provision of 46.2-1231 and 46.2-1233.1; and

33. Violating any provision of Chapter 40 ( 54.1-4000 et seq.) of Title 54.1; and

34. Violating any provision of Chapter 10.1 ( 58.1-1031 et seq.) of Title 58.1.

B. Nothing in this section shall be construed to invalidate or make unenforceable any contract or lease solely by reason of the failure of such contract or lease to comply with any other law of the Commonwealth or any federal statute or regulation, to the extent such other law, statute or regulation provides that a violation of such law, statute or regulation shall not invalidate or make unenforceable such contract or lease.