Tobacco Products Tax

  1. What are the definitions of "tobacco products," "moist snuff," "person" and "permittee?"

  2. What is the tax rate on tobacco products?

  3. Do I need a permit to handle tobacco products?

  4. What requirements does a retailer need to meet to sell tobacco products to consumers in the State of Wisconsin?

  5. Who pays the tobacco products tax?

  6. What is the tobacco products use tax?

  7. How do I pay the tobacco products tax?

  8. How do I file my tobacco products tax return?

  9. What should I do if filing electronically causes a hardship?

  10. When is the tobacco products tax return due?

  11. Are any tobacco products exempt from the tobacco products tax?

  12. Will the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) refund or credit any tobacco products taxes I paid?

  13. How do I correct a tobacco products return I already filed?

  14. If I file an incorrect tobacco products return, will I have to pay interest or penalties?

  15. Should I notify the Department of Revenue (DOR) if the business has a change to its name, address, or ownership or if the business no longer operates in Wisconsin?

  16. What records should I keep for Wisconsin tax purposes, and how long should I keep them?

  17. How can I get additional information regarding tobacco products tax?


  1. What are the definitions of "tobacco products," "moist snuff," "person," "permittee," "distributor," "retailer" and "subjobber?"
  2. What is the tax rate on tobacco products?
    Tax TypePrior to January 1, 2008January 1, 2008 to August 31, 2009September 1, 2009 and thereafter
    Tobacco Products25% of manufacturer's established list price to distributors50% of manufacturer's established list price to distributors71% of manufacturer's established list price to distributors
    Moist Snuff25% of manufacturer's established list price to distributors$1.31 per ounce100% of manufacturer's established list price to distributors
    Cigars25% of manufacturer's established list price to distributorsLesser of 50% of manufacturer's established list price to distributors or $0.50 per cigarLesser of 71% of manufacturer's established list price to distributors or $0.50 per cigar

  3. Do I need a permit to handle tobacco products?

    Yes. If one of the following applies, you must have a permit to handle tobacco products:

    1. You handle tobacco products at the wholesale level in Wisconsin as a distributor or subjobber
    2. You are a retailer who purchases tobacco products from sources outside Wisconsin that do not hold a Wisconsin distributor permit

    If you apply for a tobacco products permit, you must hold a Business Tax Registration (BTR) Certificate [sec. 73.03(50), Wis. Stats.].

    To apply for a BTR Certificate and a tobacco products permit:

    BTR Certificate

    Note: The BTR certificate and tobacco products permits are valid until canceled by the permittee or until revoked by the department. You only need one BTR certificate regardless of the number of permits or licenses you hold with DOR.

    DOR issues these wholesale tobacco products permits

    Types of Wholesale Permits / (Account Prefix)StatuteFeeTerm of Permit
    Wisconsin distributor (405)sec. 139.79none2 years
    Wisconsin subjobber (406)sec. 139.79none2 years
    Out-of-state distributor (411)sec. 139.79none2 years
    Wisconsin and out-of-state tobacco products salespersonssec. 139.81none2 years

    If you are a Tobacco Products Distributor permittee and purchased tobacco products from an out-of-state wholesaler that does not hold a permit with DOR, our Alcohol & Tobacco Enforcement Unit may confiscate the tobacco products possessed and/or offered for sale in this state on which the tobacco products tax is unpaid (after the due date). A Tobacco Products Subjobber permittee is not permitted to possess or purchase untaxed tobacco products from out-of-state sources. Only a Tobacco Products Distributor permittee in Wisconsin may possess, receive, acquire, or purchase untaxed tobacco products. [sec. 139.83, Wis. Stats.].

  4. What requirements does a retailer need to meet to sell tobacco products to consumers in the State of Wisconsin?

    As a retailer, you must meet the following requirements for all tobacco products sold to Wisconsin consumers:

    You must purchase your tobacco products for sale to Wisconsin consumers from permitted wholesalers (distributors or subjobbers) who sell tobacco products on which the Wisconsin tobacco products excise taxes have been paid and sold to you with the Wisconsin excise tax included (in the purchase/sales price), unless you hold a valid tobacco products distributor permit with DOR to pay the excise taxes on all untaxed tobacco products purchased from sources outside Wisconsin. All purchases of tobacco products from distributors or subjobbers permitted with DOR whose business is located within Wisconsin are required to be sold to you with the Wisconsin excise tax included. Distributors are liable for the Wisconsin excise taxes on all out-of-state purchases, including tax-included tobacco products purchased from distributors outside Wisconsin who do not pay the excise taxes to the state. Provide a copy of your valid DOR distributor permit to all out-of-state sources and confirm the excise tax status on those purchases prior to purchase. Invoices marked "State and/or local excise taxes are the responsibility of the purchaser/receiver" are untaxed.

    You must hold a valid retail license to sell tobacco products to consumers in Wisconsin. Licenses are issued by the municipality (city, village or town) for each location where tobacco products are received and stored for sale to consumers. You must contact the clerk for the city, village or town where you want to do business and apply for the tobacco products retail license with the clerk. All tobacco products must be sold as allowed under the license, over-the-counter or in a vending machine. Vending machine sales are allowed in "adult-only" facilities (defined as premises where no one under the age of eighteen is allowed to enter.). No person inside or outside Wisconsin may ship/deliver tobacco products direct to consumers via the mail or other delivery services.

    You may not sell/transfer tobacco products to another retailer, wholesaler or location, even if owned by the same person, unless you hold a valid tobacco products wholesale (distributor or subjobber) permit with the department. All sales/transfers of tobacco products require a wholesale invoice showing the seller's legal name, "doing business as name", and business address as permitted, as well as the purchaser's legal name, "doing business as name", and business address as permitted or licensed.

    You may not sell, or offer or possess for sale cigarettes or roll-your-own (RYO) cigarette tobacco not included on the Attorney General's Directory of Certified Tobacco Manufacturers and Brands. Only those manufacturer's brands listed on the directory may be advertised, solicited, marketed or sold as cigarettes or RYO. Pursuant to the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) statute, tobacco may not be advertised, solicited, marketed or sold as RYO and little cigars may not be advertised, solicited, marketed or sold as cigarettes or cigarette alternatives, sec. 995.12(2)(c), Wis. Stats. Any retailer who violates the requirements for the legal sale of cigarettes (or little cigars) or RYO in this state is subject to confiscation of those products and/or criminal charges, and suspension or revocation of their distributor permit.

    As a licensed retailer, you are required to purchase your tobacco products for sale to Wisconsin consumers from permitted wholesalers (distributors or jobbers) who sell tobacco products on which the Wisconsin excise taxes have been paid. If the wholesaler is not reimbursed by the retailer for the sale of the tax-included tobacco products, the department may bill the retailer for the portion of tax unpaid to the wholesaler on which they claimed credit from the state. Tobacco products possessed and/or offered for sale to consumers in this state on which the tobacco products tax has not been paid are unlawful property and subject to seizure.

  5. Who pays the tobacco products tax?

    The following permittees pay DOR the tobacco products tax [sec. 139.76(1), Wis. Stats.]:

  6. What is the tobacco products use tax?

    Any person, including consumers, in Wisconsin who acquires tobacco products and the Wisconsin tobacco products tax is due and has not been paid, must file a Combined Tobacco Products Use Tax and Sales and Use Tax Return(Form TT-104S). Purchases from sources outside Wisconsin who do not hold a permit with DOR as a Tobacco Products Distributor are untaxed. No person inside or outside Wisconsin is permitted to sell tobacco products direct to consumers via the mail or other delivery service.

  7. How do I pay the tobacco products tax?

    The tobacco products tax is paid by distributors or reported by subjobbers with one of the following returns [sec. 139.77(1), Wis. Stats.]:

    Note: You can pay your taxes by electronic funds transfer (EFT). For more information, visit the Electronic Funds Transfer page or contact us at (608) 264-9918.

  8. How do I file my tobacco products tax return?

    You are required to file all tobacco products tax reports and returns electronically. For more information, visit the cigarettes and tobacco products tax page.

    Note: Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) Reporting requirement for all distributor permittees

    All distributors must properly report all transactions of Roll-Your-Own (RYO) cigarette tobacco, by manufacturer, brand, and ounces per brand, per invoice to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue on their monthly reporting forms and maintain all records for at least five years.

  9. What should I do if filing electronically causes a hardship?

    If the Secretary of Revenue determines the requirement causes a hardship, the Secretary may waive your requirement to file electronically. If you feel filing electronically causes you a hardship, you must request a waiver.

    To request a waiver, you must do the following:

  10. When is the tobacco products tax return due?

    All returns are due by the 15th day of the month following the month or quarter covered by the return [sec. 139.82(2), Wis. Stats.]. Example: a return for October is due November 15.

    If you file a late return, you will be charged:

  11. Are any tobacco products exempt from the tobacco products tax?

    Yes. The following are exempt from the Wisconsin tobacco products tax [sec. 139.76(2), Wis. Stats.]:

  12. Will DOR refund or credit any tobacco products taxes I paid?

    Yes. There are distributor refunds/credits and Tribal refunds:

    1. Distributor Refunds/credits - a licensed tobacco products distributor can receive a refund or credit on the following [sec. 139.80, Wis. Stats.]:
    2. Tribal Refunds [effective December 1, 1999, per 1999 Wis. Act 9]:

      If your tribal council entered into agreements with the State of Wisconsin, your tribe is eligible for two refunds:

  13. How do I correct a tobacco products return I already filed?
  14. If I file an incorrect tobacco products return, will I have to pay interest or penalties?

    Yes. If you file an incorrect tobacco products return, the following will be imposed:

  15. Should I notify the Department of Revenue (DOR) if the business has a change to its name, address, or ownership or if the business no longer operates in Wisconsin?

    Yes. You must notify us when your business has any change to its name, address, or ownership, or when you stop operating in Wisconsin.

  16. What records should I keep for Wisconsin tax purposes and how long should I keep them?
  17. How can I get additional information regarding tobacco products tax?

    ​FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:

    Excise Tax Unit
    WISCONSIN DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE
    PO Box 8900
    Madison, WI 53708-8900
    Phone: (608) 266-6701
    Fax: (608) 261-7049
    Email additional questions to DORExciseTaxpayerAssistance@wisconsin.gov

January 29, 2019