Massachusetts

Alerts & Updates

Key Contacts

Massachusetts Department of Revenue
Cigarette Excise Unit
(617) 887-5090

PCA Contact

Rachel Hall rachel@premiumcigars.org

Legislative Information

Taxation

Massachusetts imposes an excise tax on all cigars and smoking tobacco that a cigar distributor imports or causes to be imported into the commonwealth, or that he manufactures in the commonwealth. Every cigar distributor authorized by the commissioner to make returns and pay the excise on cigars or smoking tobacco sold, shipped, or delivered by him to any person in the commonwealth is liable for the collection and payment of the excise on all cigars and smoking tobacco sold, shipped, or delivered. This tax is imposed on cigar distributors at the time cigars or smoking tobacco are manufactured, purchased, imported, received, or acquired in the commonwealth. 

Every cigar retailer or resident in possession of cigars or smoking tobacco upon which the excise has not previously been paid is liable for the tax. The amount of the excise advanced and paid by a cigar distributor or cigar retailer will be added to the sales price of the cigars or smoking tobacco.

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 64C §7B

Staff reported that Massachusetts localities do not levy additional tobacco products taxes.

The excise tax on all cigars and smoking tobacco held in the commonwealth is 40% of the wholesale price of such products.

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 64C §7B(b)


Massachusetts HB 4000 (2019) includes an excise tax at a rate of 75% of the wholesale price for electronic nicotine delivery systems held at the commonwealth. The excise will be imposed on an electronic nicotine delivery system distributor at the time that the electronic nicotine delivery system is manufactured, purchased, imported, received or acquired in the commonwealth. The excise will not be imposed on an electronic nicotine delivery system that is exported from the commonwealth. This excise tax would go into effect on January 1, 2020.

No person or entity is permitted to act as a cigar distributor or cigar retailer in Massachusetts without being licensed.Anyone who plans to distribute or sell cigars and smoking tobacco must register for sales tax with the Massachusetts Department of Revenue and obtain a Distributor License for Cigars and Smoking Tobacco (Form CT-CDL) and/or a Tobacco Retailer License (Form CT-RL) for cigars and smoking tobacco. Tobacco distributor and retailer license applications are subject to a background check, but the commissioner will grant or deny the license within 90 days from the date of application. There is no fee for these applications if cigarettes are not sold over-the-counter or in vending machines.

A tobacco retailer license is valid for two (2) years.

A tobacco distributor license is valid for one (1) year.

All persons who acquire untaxed smokeless tobacco, cigars, and smoking tobacco in Massachusetts must file an Untaxed Cigarette, Smokeless Tobacco, Cigar, and Smoking Tobacco Return (Form CTS-8C) with the Massachusetts Department of Revenue on or before the 20th day of each month, along with payment for taxes due.

Cigar distributors must also file an excise return (Form Cigar-2) on or before the 20th day of the month following each calendar quarter, along with payment for the taxes due. Taxpayers must file a return even if no tax is due. All required schedules must be attached for the return to be considered complete. Due dates for the return are as follows:

Quarter endingdue date
March 31April 20
June 30July 20
September 30October 20
December 31January 20
Form Type / NameForm Number / Link
Department of Revenue – Tax Division: Cigar Distributor LetterCigar Distributor Letter
Massachusetts Department of Revenue: Home (info on Retailer Licenses)Retailer Licenses Info
Application for Distributor License for Cigars and Smoking TobaccoForm CT-CDL
Untaxed Cigarette, Smokeless Tobacco, Cigar, and Smoking Tobacco ReturnForm CTS-8C
Cigar and Smoking Tobacco Excise Return (for transactions occurring after Sept. 30, 2013)Form Cigar-2

Cigar and Smoking Tobacco Definitions

Massachusetts law defines “smoking” or “smoke” as the lighting of a cigar, cigarette, pipe, or other tobacco product, or possessing a lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe, or other tobacco or non-tobacco product designed to be combusted and inhaled.

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 270 §22(a)

Cigarette” means (1) any roll of tobacco wrapped in paper or in any substance not containing tobacco, (2) little cigars, which means rolls of tobacco wrapped in leaf tobacco or any substance containing tobacco and as to which 1,000 units weigh not more than 3 pounds, and (3) 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.

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 64C §1

A “cigar” is any roll of tobacco wrapped in leaf tobacco or in any substance containing tobacco; it does not include any roll of tobacco that is a cigarette as defined in Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 64(c) §1.

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 64C §7B(a)

Smoking tobacco” means roll-your-own tobacco and other kinds and forms of tobacco suitable for smoking.

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 64C §7B(a)

Tobacco products” means cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 64C §1

Taxed cigars and smoking tobacco” include cigars and smoking tobacco upon which the excise has been paid in full by the date on which payment is due, and with respect to which the return has been completed, signed and filed with the commissioner by the date on which the return is due.

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 64C §7B(a)

Untaxed cigars and smoking tobacco” include cigars and smoking tobacco upon which the excise has not been paid in full by the date on which payment is due, or with respect to which the return has not been completed, signed and filed with the commissioner by the date on which the return is due.

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 64C §7B(a)

A “cigar distributor” is (i) any person who imports, or causes to be imported, into the commonwealth cigars or smoking tobacco for sale, or who manufactures cigars or smoking tobacco in the commonwealth, and (ii) any person within or without the commonwealth who is authorized by the commissioner to make returns and pay the excise on cigars and smoking tobacco sold, shipped or delivered by him to any person in the commonwealth.

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 64C §7B(a)

A “cigar retailer” is any person who sells or furnishes cigars or smoking tobacco in small quantities to consumers for individual use and not for resale.

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 64C §7B(a)

A “retail tobacco store” is an establishment whose primary purpose is to sell or offer for sale to consumers, but not for resale, tobacco products, and paraphernalia, in which the sale of other products is merely incidental, and in which persons under the age of 21 is prohibited at all times. A retail tobacco store must maintain a valid permit for the retail sale of tobacco products as required to be issued by the appropriate authority in the city or town where the establishment is located.

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 270 §22(a)

A “smoking bar” is an establishment that occupies exclusively an enclosed indoor space and that primarily is engaged in the retail sale of tobacco products for consumption by customers on the premises; derives revenue from the sale of food, alcohol or other beverages that is incidental to the sale of the tobacco products; prohibits entry to a person under the age of 21 years of age during the time when the establishment is open for business; prohibits any food or beverage not sold directly by the business to be consumed on the premises; maintains a valid permit for the retail sale of tobacco products as required to be issued by the appropriate authority in the city or town where the establishment is located; and, maintains a valid permit to operate a smoking bar issued by the department of revenue.

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 270 §22(a)

Wholesale price” means (i) in the case of a manufacturer of cigars and smoking tobacco, the price set for such products or, if no price has been set, the wholesale value of these products; (ii) in the case of a cigar distributor who is not a manufacturer of cigars or smoking tobacco, the price at which the cigar distributor purchased these products; or (iii) in the case of a cigar retailer or a consumer, the price at which he purchased these products.

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 64C §7B (a)

Restrictions

Massachusetts state law prohibits smoking in workplaces, work spaces, common work areas, classrooms, conference and meeting rooms, offices, elevators, hallways, medical facilities, cafeterias, employee lounges, staircases, restrooms, restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, food courts or concessions, supermarkets or retail food outlets, bars, taverns, or in a place where food or drink is sold to the public and consumed on the premises as part of a business required to collect state meals tax on the purchase; or in a train, airplane, theatre, concert hall, exhibition hall, convention center, auditorium, arena, or stadium open to the public; or in a school, college, university, museum, library, health care facility, group child care center, school age child care center, family child care center, school age day or overnight camp building, or on premises where activities are licensed under section 38 of chapter 10, or in or upon any public transportation conveyance or in any airport, train station, bus station, transportation passenger terminal, or enclosed outdoor platform.

State law also prohibits smoking in the statehouse or in a public building or in a vehicle or vessel owned, leased, or otherwise operated by the commonwealth, or in a space occupied by a state agency or department of the commonwealth which is located in another building, including a private office in a building or space mentioned in this sentence, or at an open meeting of a governmental body, or in a courtroom or courthouse. 

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 270 §22(b)


Cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products must be placed out of reach of all consumers and in a location accessible only to retail outlet personnel.

940 Code Mass. Regs 21.04(2)


Massachusetts law contains no specific provisions concerning state preemption of local laws on smoking, so local communities are allowed to pass stronger laws or ordinances further restricting this area.

The following are exempt from the ban on smoking, subject to conditions:

  • Private residences, except when used as a childcare center or other business
  • Premises occupied by a membership association, except when the premises are:
    • open to the public; or
    • occupied by a non-member who is not an invited guest of a member or an employee of the association; or
    • rented from the association for a fee or other agreement that compensates the association for the use of such space
  • Designated hotel, motel, inn, bed and breakfast or lodging homerooms 
  • A retail tobacco store, if the store maintains a valid permit for the sale of tobacco products issued by the appropriate authority in the city or town in which the retail tobacco store is located. All required permits must be displayed in a conspicuous manner, visible at all times to patrons of the establishment.
  • A smoking bar, if the smoking bar obtains a valid Smoking Bar Permit by submitting an Application for Smoking Bar Permit (Form SBP) and filing a Smoking Bar Quarterly Declaration (Form SBQD). All required permits must be displayed in a conspicuous manner, visible at all times to patrons of the establishment, along with clear signs at all entrances that warn that smoking may be present on the premises, that persons under the age of 21 may not enter, and of the health risks associated with second-hand smoke.
    • Form SBP: Application for Smoking Bar Permit
  • A theatrical performer upon a stage or in the course of professional film production, if the smoking is part of a theatrical production, and if permission has been obtained from the appropriate local authority
  • A person, organization or other entity that conducts medical or scientific research on tobacco products, if the research is conducted in an enclosed space not open to the public, in a laboratory facility at an accredited college or university, or in a professional testing laboratory as defined by regulation of the department of public health
  • Religious ceremonies where smoking is part of the ritual; and
  • A tobacco farmer, leaf dealer, manufacturer, importer, exporter, or wholesale distributor of tobacco products, may permit smoking in the workplace for the sole purpose of testing said tobacco for quality assurance purposes; if the smoking is necessary to conduct the test.

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 270 §22(c)

Massachusetts does not have a law prohibiting the underage purchase and/or underage possession of tobacco products by minors. As of January 1, 2019, it is illegal to sell tobacco to individuals under 21. Anyone other than the parents or guardian are prohibited from giving any form of tobacco to a person under 21.

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 270 §6 and §6A


Stores selling tobacco products must conspicuously post a sign stating that it is illegal to sell tobacco products to any person under the age of 21.

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 270 §7


Store clerks must verify the age of any customer wishing to buy tobacco who looks younger than 27 years of age, with a valid government-issued photo identification card.

940 Code Mass. Regs 21.04(2)(b)


The definition of “retail tobacco store,” requires that the establishment prohibit persons under the age of 21 at all times.

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 270 §22(a)


Additional regulation of the sale of cigarette rolling papers is prohibited.

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 270 § 6A

In Massachusetts, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers are prohibited from engaging in the following sales practices, subject to several exceptions:

  • Sampling, promotional giveaways, or any other free distribution of cigarettes or smokeless tobacco products
  • Breaking or otherwise opening any cigarette or smokeless tobacco product package to sell or distribute any number of unpackaged or repackaged cigarettes or any quantity of smokeless tobacco that is smaller than the smallest package distributed by the manufacturer for individual consumer use
  • Using self-service displays of cigarettes or smokeless tobacco products.

940 Code Mass. Regs 21.04(1)-(2)


The following retail sales practices are not prohibited:

  • Mail-order sales, excluding distribution of free samples through the mail, that are subject to verification that the purchaser is not younger than 21 years old.
  • Self-service displays that are located within adult-only retail facilities.
  • Within an adult-only retail facility, distribution of no more than one free sample per day to an individual adult. “Sample” means the smallest size package distributed by the manufacturer for individual consumer use. 

940 Code Mass. Regs 21.04(4)


Massachusetts law expressly allows any city, town, or board of health to enact or enforce any more restrictive ordinance, bylaw, regulation, or rule regulating the sale, use, or distribution of tobacco products, provided that it is not inconsistent with state law.

940 Code Mass. Regs 21.05


Free samples are subject to the Massachusetts tobacco tax, as the words “sales” or “sale” also apply to gifts, exchanges, and bartering.

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 64C §1

Operating Your Business

No person or entity is permitted to act as a tobacco distributor or retailer in Massachusetts without being licensed.Anyone who plans to distribute or sell cigars, smoking tobacco, or smokeless tobacco must register for sales tax (at www.mass.gov/dor) and obtain a Distributor License for Cigars and Smoking Tobacco (Form CT-CDL) and/or a Tobacco Retailer License (Form CT-RL). Tobacco distributor and retailer license applications are subject to a background check, but the commissioner will grant or deny the license within 90 days from the date of application. There is no fee for these applications if cigarettes are not sold over-the-counter or in vending machines. A tobacco retailer license is valid for two years, with the current version expiring on September 30, 2016, while a tobacco distributor license is valid for one year, with the current version expiring on September 30, 2015.

All persons who acquire untaxed smokeless tobacco, cigars, and smoking tobacco in Massachusetts must file an Untaxed Cigarette, Smokeless Tobacco, Cigar, and Smoking Tobacco Return (Form CTS-8C) with the Massachusetts Department of Revenue on or before the 20th day of each month, along with payment for taxes due.

Cigar distributors must also file an excise return (Form Cigar-2) on or before the 20th day of the month following each calendar quarter, along with payment for the taxes due. Taxpayers must file a return even if no tax is due. All required schedules must be attached for the return to be considered complete. Due dates for the return are as follows:

Quarter endingdue date
March 31April 20
June 30July 20
September 30October 20
December 31January 20

Businesses in Massachusetts may also apply for a Smoking Bar Permit (Form SBP), which is valid for two years from the date of issuance unless suspended or revoked. A smoking bar must submit a Smoking Bar Quarterly Declaration (Form SBQD) to demonstrate that revenue generated from the sale of tobacco products is equal to or greater than 51% of the total combined revenue generated by the sale of tobacco products, food, and beverages.

Localities may require additional business licenses.

Form Type / NameForm Number / Link
Cigar Distributor LetterCigar Distributor Letter
How to Apply Online for a Tobacco Retailer LicenseApply for Tobacco Retailer License
Application for Distributor License for Cigars and Smoking Tobacco Form CT-CDL
Untaxed Cigarette, Smokeless Tobacco, Cigar, and Smoking Tobacco ReturnForm CTS-8C
Cigar and Smoking Tobacco Excise Return (for transactions occurring after Sept. 30, 2013)Form Cigar-2

Political Involvement

A “legislative agent” is a person who, for compensation, engages in legislative lobbying, which includes at least one lobbying communication with a government employee. The term “legislative agent” includes a person who, as part of his regular and usual business or professional activities, engages in legislative lobbying, whether or not any additional compensation is received for these services. A person is presumed to be engaged in legislative lobbying incidental to his regular and usual business or professional activities, and is therefore not a legislative agent, if he: (i) engages in legislative lobbying for not more than 25 hours during any reporting period; and (ii) receives less than $2,500 during any reporting period for legislative lobbying.

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 3 § 39

Legislative lobbying” means any act to promote, oppose, influence or attempt to influence legislation, or to promote, oppose or influence the governor’s approval or veto thereof, including any effort to influence the introduction, sponsorship, consideration, action, or non-action with respect to any legislation. Legislative lobbying also includes: acts to influence or attempt to influence the decision of any officer or employee of a city or town when those acts are intended to carry out a common purpose with legislative lobbying at the state level; and strategizing, planning, and research performed in connection with an actual communication with a government employee. Legislative lobbying does not include providing information in writing in response to a written request from an officer or employee of the legislative branch for technical advice or factual information regarding any legislation.

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 3 § 39

An “executive agent” is a person who, for compensation, engages in executive lobbying, which includes at least one lobbying communication with a government employee. The term “executive agent” includes a person who, as part of his regular and usual business or professional activities, engages in executive lobbying, whether or not any additional compensation is received for these services. A person is presumed to be engaged in executive lobbying incidental to his regular and usual business or professional activities, and is therefore not an executive agent, if he: (i) engages in executive lobbying for not more than 25 hours during any reporting period; and (ii) receives less than $2,500 during any reporting period for executive lobbying.

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 3 § 39

Executive lobbying” means any act to promote, oppose, influence, or attempt to influence a decision of any officer or employee of the executive branch that concerns legislation or the adoption, defeat or postponement of a standard, rate, rule or regulation, or any act to communicate directly with a covered executive official to influence a decision concerning policy or procurement. Executive lobbying also includes: acts to influence or attempt to influence the decision of any officer or employee of a city or town when those acts are intended to carry out a common purpose with executive lobbying at the state level; and strategizing, planning, and research performed in connection with an actual communication with a government employee. Executive lobbying does not include providing information in writing in response to a written request from an officer or employee of the executive branch for technical advice or factual information regarding a standard, rate, rule or regulation, policy or procurement.

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 3 § 39

A “lobbyist entity” is a business that provides lobbyist services, consisting of at least one legislative or executive agent, including foreign or domestic corporations, associations, sole proprietors, partnerships, limited liability partnerships, joint-stock companies, joint ventures, or any other similar business formation.

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 3 § 39

Each legislative agent, executive agent, and lobbyist entity must file an annual registration statement with the state secretary no later than December 15th of the year preceding the registration year. A client retaining a legislative agent, executive agent, or lobbyist entity must also file an annual registration statement with the state secretary no later than December 15th. A client or lobbyist entity who retains a lobbyist entity, legislative agent or executive agent after January 1st of the registration year must register this employment within the next 10 days.

Each lobbyist entity must pay an annual filing fee of $1,000 to register with the state secretary, each legislative or executive agent must pay an annual filing fee of $100, and each client must pay an annual filing fee of $100 for each lobbyist entity hired.

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 3 § 41


Twice a year (July 15thand January 15th), every executive and legislative agent must submit to the state secretary an itemized statement listing all campaign contributions and expenditures incurred while lobbying. This report must also list:

  1. Each client for whom the legislative or executive agent provided lobbying services
  2. All bill numbers and names of legislation and other governmental action that the executive or legislative agent acted to promote, oppose or influence
  3. The executive or legislative agent’s position, if any, on each such bill or other governmental action
  4. The client or clients on whose behalf the executive or legislative agent was acting with respect to each such bill or governmental action
  5. The amount of compensation received for executive or legislative lobbying from each client with respect to such lobbying services
  6. All direct business associations with public officials

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 3 § 43

Form Type / NameForm Number / Link
Massachusetts Lobbyist Registration & Reporting SystemRegistration & Reporting System
Online User Assistance Guide (PPT)Online Guide (PPT)

Shipping Regulations

Mail order or internet sales are subject to restrictions described in 940 CMR 22.05 (1)(a) and (b), which provide that it shall be an unfair or deceptive act or practice for any person who sells or distributes cigars or little cigars directly to consumers within Massachusetts to engage in sampling of cigars or little cigars or promotional giveaways of cigars or little cigars and engage in breaking or otherwise opening any little cigar package to sell or distribute individual little cigars or a number of unpackaged or repackaged little cigars.

940 CMR 22.05: Point of Sale Restrictions


Massachusetts has PACT Act reporting forms for roll-your-own tobacco and smokeless tobacco.

PACT Act Form: Massachusetts State Tobacco Report – RYT and smokeless

Form CT-MM T 


No person or entity is permitted to act as a tobacco distributor or retailer in Massachusetts without being licensed.Anyone who plans to distribute or sell cigars, smoking tobacco, or smokeless tobacco must register for sales tax (at www.mass.gov/dor) and obtain a Distributor License for Cigars and Smoking Tobacco (Form CT-CDL) and/or a Tobacco Retailer License (Form CT-RL).

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 62C § 16: Filing of returns by taxpayers subject to chapters 64A and 64C, 64E to 64J, 64L to 64M and 138

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 62C § 67: Licenses and registration certificates of taxpayers under chapters 64A, 64C, 64E to 64J or 64M

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 64C §7B(a): Definitions; cigar distributor


Additional information about licensing in Massachusetts is available under the Operating Your Business tab above.

Verification of age through the mail or internet shall consist of, at minimum, verification that the purchaser is of the Minimum Legal Sales Age through a commercially available database, or aggregate of databases, that is regularly used by government and business for the purpose of age and identity verification and use of a method of mailing, shipping, or delivery that requires signature of a person who is of the Minimum Legal Sales Age before the shipping package is released to the purchaser.

940 CMR 22.05(4)(a): Mail-order or internet sales that are subject to verification that the purchaser is at least the Minimum Legal Sales Age

Massachusetts imposes an excise tax on all cigars and smoking tobacco that a cigar distributor imports or causes to be imported into the commonwealth, or that he manufactures in the commonwealth. Every cigar distributor authorized by the commissioner to make returns and pay the excise on cigars or smoking tobacco sold, shipped, or delivered by him to any person in the commonwealth is liable for the collection and payment of the excise on all cigars and smoking tobacco sold, shipped, or delivered. This tax is imposed on cigar distributors at the time cigars or smoking tobacco are manufactured, purchased, imported, received, or acquired in the commonwealth. 

Every cigar retailer or resident in possession of cigars or smoking tobacco upon which the excise has not previously been paid is liable for the tax. The amount of the excise advanced and paid by a cigar distributor or cigar retailer will be added to the sales price of the cigars or smoking tobacco.

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 64C §7B (b)


Massachusetts HB 4000 (2019) includes an excise tax at a rate of 75% of the wholesale price for electronic nicotine delivery systems held at the commonwealth. The excise will be imposed on an electronic nicotine delivery system distributor at the time that the electronic nicotine delivery system is manufactured, purchased, imported, received or acquired in the commonwealth. The excise will not be imposed on an electronic nicotine delivery system that is exported from the commonwealth. This excise tax would go into effect on January 1, 2020.

This measure states that an electronic nicotine delivery system retailer shall be liable for the collection of the excise on all electronic nicotine delivery systems that are in the electronic nicotine delivery system retailer’s possession at any time and upon which the excise has not been paid by an electronic nicotine delivery system distributor. 

Massachusetts HB 4000 (2019) requires that the amount of the excise advanced and paid by an electronic nicotine delivery system distributor or electronic nicotine system retailer, be added to and collected as part of the sales price of the electronic nicotine delivery system. An electronic nicotine delivery system distributor shall be liable for the payment of the excise on electronic nicotine delivery systems that the electronic nicotine delivery system distributor imports or causes to be imported into the commonwealth or that the electronic nicotine delivery system distributor manufactures in the commonwealth.


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