Blog: Hearing set on tribal tobacco in New York
"In the latest example of how not even Democrats are cozying up to Gov. David Paterson these days, Craig Johnson, the Long Island Democrat who heads the Senate Investigations Committe, wants hearings on the lack of tax collections.

This comes in the wake of a story earlier this week in the Buffalo News noting that Paterson has quietly written off the estimated $65 million it could have gotten by taxing Native American cigarette sales.

Republican Sen. Joe Griffo of the Utica area also decried the lack of tax collection in a recent release.

Here’s Johnson’s statement on the upcoming hearings, followed by Griffo’s release.

Senator Craig M. Johnson, chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Investigations and Government Operations, announced today plans to hold a hearing on the state’s long-unsuccessful attempts to collect taxes from cigarettes sold to Non-Native Americans on Indian reservations.

This move was prompted by news that the Paterson Administration has quietly written off collecting this revenue — a move that is in direct violation of a law that the governor himself signed last year. The failure to collect this revenue is costing the state $65 million this year, according to the state Office of the Budget.

Non-collection of this tax revenue from Native American retailers has long been an issue in New York that has confounded several administrations. Senator Johnson, however, contends that the current economic crisis, and budget deficit, make a resolution vital.

“We literally can’t afford to look the other way, nor should the state Department of Taxation and Finance ignore a law that is barely a year old,” Senator Johnson, (D-Nassau,) said. “This Committee wants to be helpful in finding a solution, but the public also deserves to know where things stand between the state and Native American retailers and why there has yet to be an agreement.”"

Get the Story:
Capitol Confidential: Non-collection of Indian tobacco taxes will spark Senate hearings (The Albany Times Union 8/20)

Earlier Story:
State drops collection of taxes on Indian cigarettes (The Buffalo News 8/16)