Today's Date: September 22, 2021
Crayola Launches New Season of Digital-First Content in Partnership with WildBrain Spark   •   PCOS Challenge Hosts PCOS Awareness Symposium in Philadelphia as Part of Major Global Awareness Month Campaign   •   People en Español Announces "Festival En Casa," a Virtual Event Celebration Filled with Entertainment & Inspiration   •   Susan G. Komen® Spotlights Partners and Products for Consumers Looking to Make a Difference in the Fight Against Breast Canc   •   Hims & Hers Expands Customizable, Compounded Skincare Offerings With Hims Overnight Anti-Aging Duo, Hers Clear Skin System   •   Fiverr Announces Inaugural Future Collective, a Business Accelerator Fellowship for Black Entrepreneurs   •   Canada Post Community Foundation ramps up 2021 campaign, rolls out grants to improve the lives of Canadian children   •   Matthew West, Cory Asbury And More Chart-topping Christian Songwriters Honored At 2021 Virtual ASCAP Christian Music Awards   •   The Stuttering Association for the Young Shines a "Spotlight" on Kids Who Stutter in Powerful New PSA   •   Nia Tero And 8 Private Foundations Announce 'Protecting Our Planet Challenge'   •   HITEC Announces the 100 Most Influential Hispanic Leaders in Technology for 2022   •   Dave & Buster’s Introduces First-of-Its Kind NFT + Digital Collectible   •   Ryan Named One of the 2021 Best Workplaces for Women by FORTUNE and Great Place to Work   •   Medtronic Begins Pediatric Clinical Trial of Spinal Tether for Treatment of Scoliosis   •   Sontiq® Offers Public Education Resource to Address Pandemic-inspired Changes in Cyber Threat Landscape   •   American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. Launches AE77, an Artfully Designed and Sustainably Crafted Premium Denim Brand   •   African-American History Courses Available at No Cost to High School Students in Florida and Texas for the 2021-2022 School Year   •   Canadians help fully vaccinate nearly 3.4 million people globally through COVID-19 donations - UNICEF Canada   •   ThirdLove Enters the Active Market After Years of Customer Demand   •   Carvana Brings The New Way to Buy a Car® to Joplin
Bookmark and Share

NY Court Bans Sale Of Tax-Free Cigarettes By Tribes

NEW YORK - A New York State appeals court has unanimously upheld a 2010 state law requiring Native American tribes to charge state-levied taxes on cigarettes sold to patrons from off the reservations, according to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

The Southampton Press reports, the ruling lifts an injunction against enforcing the law, put in place after the Seneca Nation in upstate New York challenged the law’s constitutionality. Now, Native American cigarette sellers say that national tobacco companies are no longer delivering cigarettes to them unless taxes are collected.

“Right now, we’ll have to start looking at layoffs,” said Lance Gumbs, a Shinnecock Indian Nation member who operates a trading post and smoke shop on the reservation in Southampton. “What this does is, it puts us out of business. It won’t stop people from buying tax-free cigarettes—it will just create a black market, like during Prohibition.”

Attorney General Schneiderman applauded the court’s ruling in a statement issued Monday, saying the new law will close a legal loophole that was costing the state millions in lost tax revenue each year.

“Today’s decision respects tribal rights and at the same time represents an important victory for the state to collect deserved revenue and to protect public health,” he said. “The decision closes an enormous tax-evasion loophole that was depriving New York of hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue.”

The State Legislature approved the law in August 2010, requiring taxes to be collected from wholesalers who sell cigarettes to Native American tribes, rather from the sellers themselves. Native American tribes are considered sovereign nations and cannot be taxed themselves by the federal or state governments. The state estimates that nearly $500,000 in cigarette taxes go unpaid every day through the tax-free sale of cigarettes by Native Americans.

But tribe members said that the new law actually is an end-run around the constitutional exemption from taxes afforded to Native Americans that robs them of one of few economic opportunities for their members. They also claimed that the purported benefits of charging the tax is a red herring, because the state will not actually see increases in revenues: with no price advantage over traditional cigarette sellers, they say, Native American sellers will simply go out of business.

Harry Wallace, a former chief of the Unkechaug tribe in Mastic and owner of a cigarette shop on the Poospatuck Reservation, said he hopes to be able to continue his business either on the back of further litigation overturning this week’s court decision or by selling Native American-produced cigarette brands, which may be exempt from the tax legislation.

“We’re not trying to evade any laws, we’re just trying to protect our rights,” Mr. Wallace said. “A lot of the different nations have switched to just Native American brands. I think I will be able to continue.”

The state has claimed that even Native American brands of cigarettes must be taxed if they are to be sold to non-Indian buyers—a point that may be the subject of future litigation.

Mr. Gumbs said that the legislation was not driven by health concerns or because it was hurting small convenience stores, but by large tobacco companies like Phillip Morris who are trying to put Native American brands of cigarettes out of business because they are not bound to contribute money to a federal pact that makes tobacco companies pay for stop-smoking advertising.

“That’s what this thing is really all about—the tobacco companies want to put us out of business so they don’t have the competition,” Mr. Gumbs said. “They just have the state in their pockets. Phillip Morris wrote this legislation. They think they’re fooling everyone ...

“It’s not going to go away. Other people will just sneak [tobacco products] into the state. It won’t be the Indian tribes—it will be some other group, someone you don’t know and can’t see where the money goes.”


STORY TAGS: cigarettes , tribes , tax free , Southampton , Native American News, Indian News, Native News, Minority News, Civil Rights, Discrimination, Racism, Diversity, Racial Equality, Bias, Equality



Back to top
| Back to home page
Video

White House Live Stream
LIVE VIDEO EVERY SATURDAY
alsharpton Rev. Al Sharpton
9 to 11 am EST
jjackson Rev. Jesse Jackson
10 to noon CST


Video

LIVE BROADCASTS
Sounds Make the News ®
WAOK-Urban
Atlanta - WAOK-Urban
KPFA-Progressive
Berkley / San Francisco - KPFA-Progressive
WVON-Urban
Chicago - WVON-Urban
KJLH - Urban
Los Angeles - KJLH - Urban
WKDM-Mandarin Chinese
New York - WKDM-Mandarin Chinese
WADO-Spanish
New York - WADO-Spanish
WBAI - Progressive
New York - WBAI - Progressive
WOL-Urban
Washington - WOL-Urban

Listen to United Natiosns News