Idaho considers taxing reservation cigarette sales

Boise, Idaho (AP) March 2011

Over tribal objections, House Speaker Lawerence Denney is pushing a plan for Idaho to tax cigarettes sold on the state’s Indian reservations.

The Republican leader introduced his measure in the Revenue and Taxation Committee.

Denney says it will prevent Idaho residents from traveling to reservations just to get a good deal on low-tax cigarettes, while leveling the playing field for off-reservation retailers that must pay the 57 cent-per-pack state tax.

The Coeur d’Alene Tribe in northern Idaho only charges a 10 cent tax per pack, while the Nez Perce Tribe near Lewiston charges 24 cents.

If Denney’s bill passes, Idaho’s five tribes could apply for a state tax credit.

But tribal leaders say they weren’t consulted on Denney’s bill and believe that tax policy remains a sovereignty issue.