New York judge blocks cigarette tax on Indian reservations

Chris Rizo Dec. 26, 2008, 9:37pm

Rose Sconiers

New York (Legal Newsline)-A New York state judge has blocked the state's plan to collect sales tax on cigarettes sold by Indian reservations to non-tribal members.

State Supreme Court Justice Rose Sconiers on Wednesday issued the temporary restraining order pending a Jan. 27 hearing.

The ruling bars state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office and the Department of Tax and Finance from enforcing the law "in a manner that would restrict the sale of unstamped cigarettes from being sold at wholesale to reservation cigarette sellers."

The Seneca Nation filed a lawsuit challenging the law due to take effect in February. The judge's ruling applies to all tribes in the state.

The new law would bar the sale of tobacco products to Native American retailers without a state tax stamp certifying the cigarettes won't be resold tax-free.

"In fashioning a new direction on this issue, I start with the recognition that it is essential that tribal sovereignty be respected. That means, among other things, recognizing that the state of New York lacks authority to tax products sold on native land for tribal use or for consumption by tribal members," Gov. David Paterson said in a signing statement that accompanied the legislation.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at

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