A coalition of small businessmen and state and county officials is reminding Governor Paterson of the September 1 deadline, to start collecting taxes on cigarettes sold by Native Americans.The 'Enforce the Law-Collect the Tax Coalition' is holding a series of news conferences statewide, including in Syracuse on Monday. Assemblyman Bill Magee (D-Madison County) says he believes the increases in both the excise and sales taxes are sending more people to buy at less expensive smoke shops, which adds to the problem---right now it's estimated that one third of all cigarettes sold here in New York are untaxes, losing the state $150-million to $1-billion dollars in revenues.Paul Miller, Madison County Administrator, says the shortfall in revenue from cigarette taxes also affects other budget issues:He says that over the past few years, as the Oneida Nation has increased the number of smokeshops to seven in Madison County, they've had to raise property taxes 20% to make up for the sales tax drop.Assemblyman Magee says he does not believe this is a sovereignty issue, that safeguards could be put in place to ensure that Native Americans are not taxed. Miller says he's frustrated by the fact that New York won a case in the US Supreme Court that allows the taxation, and other states, including Michigan, have used it to set up taxation agreements, but NY has not.In 2005 the NY Legislature passed a bill, effective in 2006, that would have forced tax collection, but in March of 2006 the State Department of Taxation and Finance issued what's been called the 'Policy of Forbearance' saying it would not collect.That was ordered revoked (if you click, scroll down for the original policy, too) by Governor Paterson in February of this year, paving the way for a settlement.
The coalition points to a State Senate study on the Native American sales tax issueWe asked the Onondaga, Cayuga and Oneida Nations for comment on today's developments, and only the Oneida's responded with this statement, which they'd issued previously:None of New York TMs previous efforts to impose taxes on sovereign Indian nations have ever succeeded, and there is no reason to believe this latest effort will succeed either. The Oneida Nation has a history of resolving issues with parties who approach the discussions in good faith. When New York is ready to engage with the Oneida Nation on a government-to-government basis in which the parties respect each other TMs interests, we TMll be ready to negotiate a final resolution that is fair and legal. "Mark Emery, director of media relations, Oneida Indian Nation