Seneca Indian Nation Seeks to Block NY Cigarette Tax

The Seneca Indian Nation is seeking a federal order to stop New York State from following through with plans to tax reservation cigarette sales.

Lawyers for the western New York tribe filed a request for a temporary restraining order in U.S. District Court that would temporarily block the state from enforcing new tax laws on the tribe.

Gov. David Paterson's office had no comment on the filing. A Taxation and Finance Department spokesman says the department will move forward with plans to implement the tax beginning September 1. Under the plan, the state would collect its $4.35 per pack sales tax on cigarettes sold by Native American retailers to non-Native customers. The tax is expected to generate about $200 million a year.

The Senecas argue in a federal lawsuit that the plan infringes on their federally protected rights and would force the nation to abandon its own regulatory system in order to enforce the state's.

The nation imposes its own tax of 75 cents per carton to fund health and education programs.