Tax Coalition Calls on Governor to Collect Cigarette Taxes on Indian Territories

August 26, 2010 Updated Aug 26, 2010 at 7:09 PM EDT

By Kyla Igoe

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August 26, 2010 Updated Aug 26, 2010 at 7:09 PM EDT

Buffalo, NY (WKBW) - The Enforce the Law, Collect the Tax Coalition is calling on Governor David Paterson to enforce the law and collect taxes from cigarette sales on Native American Territories. The coalition, consisting of businesses from around the state, estimate that close to $1 billion in revenue is uncollected each year and businesses are losing sales across the board.

"Our sales have gone down 30 percent or more since the new taxes went in place," said Michael Newman, president of NOCO Express Shops. "When you talk to some of the wholesalers, distributors, or manufacturers they tell us their sales haven't gone down, it's just going elsewhere."

The taxation of cigarettes sold to Non-Native Americans on Indian Territories is expected to go into effect September 1 and has meet opposition by the Seneca Nation of Indians. Seneca Nation of Indians President Barry Snyder says the government is ignoring indian treaties and their sovereignty.

"New York State government officials don't get it," said Snyder in a statement. "They are willing to ignore those treaties and the will of the people of New York in their endless quest to generate new revenues to balance their budget."

A recent Zogby International poll also found more than 68% of those surveyed think state and federal governments should honor indian treaties.

"The interpretation of the law says Native Americans are granted sovereignty, and sovereignty is honored when it comes to the sale of these products to their own members," said State Assemblyman Sam Hoyt.