The New York Post ran a story yesterday entitled, "Tribal warfare looms over push for cig tax" and mainly quotes New York Governor David Paterson on a law that takes effect this Wednesday requiring the state to collect taxes on cigarettes that are sold on the Indian reservations in the state.
"This is a very dangerous situation," Gov. Paterson told WOR-AM radio station. "There is a, I think, high alert. The State Police tells us over and over again that there could be violence and death as a result of some of the measures we're taking."
The tribes say that they are not required by treaties to collect sales tax on behalf of the state and any attempt to collect taxes is an affrot to their sovereignty.
The Post says "Gov. Paterson is on the warpath" and says he is committed to collecting the taxes which, technically, are to be collected from the wholesalers except for limited amounts of cigarettes that will continue to remain tax-free for tribal members' personal use.
Some estimates suuggest that 1 in every 3 packs of cigarettes sold in the state of New York are sold on the Indian reservations. The reason for the new law is simple: the state wants the tax dollars to help offset budget shortfalls.
In 1997, when the state tried to collect the taxes, protesters shut down a section of the New York Thruway.
"There will be quite an uprising and protest to this, but I am going to maintain this policy," Gov. Paterson said.
New York City's Mayor Bloomberg said two weeks ago that Paterson should put on a cowboy hat and get a shotgun when they start to collect the taxes. Bloomberg said that would make a great video clip. Paterson responsed last week by saying some people "may just not understand how serious the situation is," and said he is hoping for a peaceful resolution.
"I love the mayor, but this is a very dangerous situation," Paterson said.
According to the Post, "Bloomberg spokesman Stu Loeser shrugged off Paterson's remarks, saying, 'The governor said the state will start collecting the taxes next week, and we think that's great.'"
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