Native American Tribes Win Temporary Reprieve From Paterson’s Proposed Cigarette Tax

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Photo: Photo-illustration: Everett Bogue; Photos: Getty Images, iStockphoto

A federal judge temporarily blocked Governor Paterson's plans to drum up an additional $200 million in state revenue by forcing Native American tribes to pay $4.35 in sales tax per-pack for cigarettes sold to non-Indian customers. The Seneca and Cayuga nations were granted a court order to stop the tax, but with another hearing set for Thursday, it's unclear how long the order will last. Last week another tribe, the St. Regis Mohawk, sued over the tax plan in a different federal court. The Seneca tribe is the biggest player, purchasing 10.2 million of the 24 million cartons of non-native brands sold to New York tribes in 2009. After fires and protests, in some cases violent ones, broke out in Seneca territories in the nineties over an attempt to collect tax, Albany has tried to stay away from the issue. State police had told Paterson to expect "violence and death."

Tribal smoke break [NYP]