BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - New York State is rolling out new regulations to collect taxes on cigarettes sold by Indians, but will it work?
It is cash-strapped New York State's latest attempt to collect taxes on cigarettes sold by Indian retailers. The State Tax Department wants to require that cigarette manufacturers can only sell to licensed cigarette stamping agents. Those agents must sell only to those who pay taxes on the product. No taxes = no cigarettes.
J.C. Seneca of the Seneca Nation of Indians said, "The Seneca Nation will never be tax collectors for the state."
J.C. Seneca spoke last October reacting to a previous proposal to collect taxes from Indian retailers. And a year ago, Senecas on the Cattaraugus Reservation set fires along the Thruway, reacting to yet another state attempt to collect taxes on cigarettes sold by Indian retailers.
Seneca Nation President Barry Snyder said, "The history is clear. State officials think they can do what they want to do whenever they want to do it."
The state is adding a new twist to this latest tax proposal. It would provide a supply of tax-free cigarettes to each tribe meant for the personal consumption of tribal members. But State Senator George Maziarz thinks this is all going nowhere.
"I thought it was interesting in this year's state budget the Governor doesn't anticipate any revenue from this. I think it's just smoke and mirrors on his part. I don't see him ever doing the enforcement," said Maziarz.
And Republican Maziarz believes the Democratic Governor is appealing to downstate interests with this proposal as he kicks off his election campaign.
Maziarz said, "It's tough to predict with David Paterson, but I just dont think he anticipates collecting this."
A spokesperson tells News 4 that the Senecas are still looking over the language of this latest proposal and they expect to have a statement soon.
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