Tribes return to court over New York cigarette tax

Buffalo, New York (AP) November 2010

A federal judge in Buffalo has extended a temporary order blocking tax collections on cigarettes sold by two New York Indian nations.

Lawyers for the St. Regis Mohawk tribe of northern New York and the Unkechaugs of Long Island argued last week against the state’s plans to apply its $4.35-per-pack sales tax on cigarettes sold by tribal retailers to non-Indian customers.

Judge Richard Arcara extended until Nov. 12 a temporary order blocking the levy while he considers whether to grant a more permanent preliminary injunction.

Arcara recently denied a preliminary injunction sought by the Seneca and Cayuga nations, but gave those tribes time to appeal.

The state sees the tax as a potential $200 million-a-year revenue source.