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Ruling bars cigarette tax on sales by Indians

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  • Ruling bars cigarette tax on sales by Indians

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    This Message is Reprinted Under the Fair Use
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    FROM: _http://www.buffalonews.com/cityregion/story/532934.html_
    (Ruling bars cigarette tax on sales by Indians : City & Region : The Buffalo News)

    12/26/08 05:36 AM
    Ruling bars cigarette tax on sales by Indians
    Restraining order issued against state
    By Brian Meyer
    NEWS STAFF REPORTER


    The state is facing a new legal hurdle in its effort to collect taxes on
    cigarettes sold on Indian reservations.

    A judge has issued a ruling that would temporarily block the state from
    enforcing a new tax policy.
    An attorney for a Seneca tobacco retailer and a northern New York tobacco
    wholesaler said State Supreme Court Justice Rose H. Sconiers issued a temporary
    restraining order Wednesday. The ruling directs state officials to appear in
    court again Jan. 27 to explain why the judge shouldn’t issue an injunction
    barring the tax collection.
    Margaret A. Murphy, a former Buffalo city judge who is representing Seneca
    tobacco merchant Scott Maybee and Day Wholesale of Tupper Lake, said she is not
    surprised by the ruling. Murphy played a key role last year in derailing New
    York’s last attempt to collect taxes on tobacco sold on Indian reservations.

    While she said the case might seem complex to some people, Murphy insisted
    the issue can be boiled down to a few simple facts. One key factor, she said,
    is that state officials have yet to develop a system of rules and regulations
    for tax collections on reservations. For example, she said the state has not
    set up a process for providing rebates to Native Americans who pay taxes on
    cigarettes bought in reservation stores.
    Murphy criticized state officials for creating an “us vs. them” scenario in
    the long-festering dispute over whether taxes should be collected on
    reservation sales. Murphy said other states have “shown respect for the sovereignty
    of tribal governments” and have negotiated tax compacts with tribal leaders.
    Officials in New York have taken another tactic, said Murphy.
    “You can’t point to [reservation] retailers and wholesalers, call them
    criminals, then expect them to come to the table,” Murphy said.
    Officials from the state attorney general’s office could not be reached to
    comment Thursday.
    Earlier this month, Gov. David A. Paterson signed legislation requiring
    cigarette wholesalers to prove to manufacturers that they are complying with
    rules that require the payment of taxes on tobacco sold to non-Native Americans.
    Murphy said there are “defects” in the legislation slated to take effect in
    mid-February.
    [email protected]_ (mailto:[email protected]om)
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