NYS Wins Latest Court Decision on Cigarette Tax Collection

June 9, 2011 Updated Jun 9, 2011 at 1:25 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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NYS Wins Latest Court Decision on Cigarette Tax Collection

June 9, 2011 Updated Jun 9, 2011 at 1:25 PM EDT

Buffalo, NY (WKBW) Supreme Court Justice Donna Siwek rejected a call by the Seneca Indian Nation--regarding regulations adopted by the Tax Department to mandate the collection of tax on cigarettes. The temporary order was lifted Wednesday.

The state plans to collect the $4.35-per-pack tariff on Native American sales-- without going onto reservations-- by requiring wholesalers to pay the sales taxes before suppling reservation stores.

Here's the latest response from the Seneca's--

ALLEGANY TERRITORY, Salamanca, NY (WKBW-Release)
The following is a statement from Seneca Nation of Indians President Robert Odawi Porter about today’s court ruling involving a state law that attempts to tax tobacco sales.
Porter said today:
“This ruling was not a surprise. In anticipation, the Nation will be immediately filing papers with the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court to stay the decision and eventually see it overturned. However, if New York State courts eventually allow this New York State law to stand, it will have two primary results. One, good-paying retail jobs, selling a legal product in Western New York, will be lost; and, two, there will be no change in the Seneca Nation’s stand that it will never collect or impose sales taxes for New York State. If the Nation’s businesses need to shift their product mix to render such onerous tax laws moot, they will.”

“No one should underestimate the Nation’s resolve to defend and protect its sovereign rights. Immunity from taxes by federal treaty is the law of the land. Our people survived state encroachment before and triumphed for centuries as an independent and successful people. That will not change now.”

Seneca Nation Wins Stay in Tobacco Tax Case

Appellate Division Judge Stays Lower Court Decision

ALLEGANY TERRITORY, Salamanca, NY June 9, 2011 – The Seneca Nation of Indians, acting this morning following an adverse court decision Wednesday on a state law that attempts to tax tobacco wholesalers’ transactions with Indian retailers, won a stay in the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court.

The temporary restraining order is effective until June 20.

State Supreme Court Appellate Division Associate Justice Jerome C. Gorski granted the order at the Nation’s request. It prevents New York State from enforcing the wholesaler taxing law with respect to the Seneca Nation’s tobacco commerce while the Nation’s appeal is heard and decided by the higher court.

On Wednesday, Justice Donna M. Siwek sided with the state and removed a temporary restraining order blocking state enforcement. Nation attorneys went to the appellate division late Wednesday and the higher court stay was put in place this morning.

Nation President Robert Odawi Porter reiterated what he said about Wednesday’s decision:

“If New York State courts eventually allow this New York State law to stand, it will have two primary results. One, good-paying retail jobs, selling a legal product in Western New York, will be lost; and, two, there will be no change in the Seneca Nation’s stand that it will never collect or impose sales taxes for New York State. If the Nation’s businesses need to shift their product mix to render such onerous tax laws moot, they will.”

“No one should underestimate the Nation’s resolve to defend and protect its sovereign rights. Immunity from taxes by federal treaty is the law of the land. Our people survived state encroachment before and triumphed for centuries as an independent and successful people. That will not change now.”

More About The Seneca Nation of Indians

The Seneca Nation of Indians, one of the six nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, continues to live on its three aboriginal areas in Western New York, south of Buffalo, as well as sovereign territories in Niagara Falls and Buffalo where the Nation operates resorts. The Senecas’ long history includes passing on constitutional and governmental traditions used by founders of the United States like Benjamin Franklin. Formerly a warrior nation, it traditionally controlled trade and protected the Western territories, earning the title “Keeper of the Western Door.” The Nation’s five sovereign territories are comprised of 31,095 acres along the Allegany River and the Southern Tier Expressway, known as the Allegany Territory; 22,011 acres along Cattaraugus Creek near Lake Erie known as the Cattaraugus Territory; one square mile in Cuba, called the Oil Spring Territory; 30 acres in Niagara Falls, and 9 acres in Buffalo. The Allegany Territory contains the City of Salamanca within its boundaries. Tens of thousands of acres of land in southern New York and northern Pennsylvania were taken from the Nation when the federal government built the Kinzua Dam and forcibly evicted Senecas from their land in the early 1960s. The Nation today operates a $1.1 billion economy that employs more than 6,300 people, native and not.