With but one day left until New York state starts collecting a $4.35-a-pack cigarette taxes on reservations, the issue is now up to a federal judge.
As the Buffalo News puts it, “he stakes are high, and the clock is ticking.”
Yesterday, New York Supreme Court Judge Donna M. Siwek refused to block the state from collecting taxes on cigarettes sold in Native-owned stores to non-Native customers. The tax would add $4.35 per XXXX.
Tribes are fighting down to the wire, the News reports:
With tax collections scheduled to begin Wednesday, the Seneca Nation and other Indian tribes will get another chance to fight the law in federal court this afternoon.
They will ask U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara to issue an injunction delaying the implementation of the new law, which could ignite some violent demonstrations by angry Senecas.
“For us, these are grave circumstances,” said Robert Odawi Porter, a Seneca Nation lawyer and tribal presidential candidate,tells the News.
Both tribal and state officials have expressed fears that attempts to collect the tax could spark violence. In years past, similar attempts led to a shutdown of the New York Thruway where it runs through tribal land. Gov. David A. Paterson referred last week to the possibility of “violence and death.”
The state desperately needs the money from the tax, which could bring an estimated $200 million a year. But some tribal members tell WIVB (video above) that if the state tries to collect the tax, they won’t pay.