N.Y. Governor Delays Tax Collection at Native American Retailers

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N.Y. Governor Delays Tax Collection at Native American Retailers

ALBANY -- Governor Eliot L. Spitzer is going against a previous promise to collect taxes on the sale of cigarettes and gasoline by Native American retailers, officials told the Buffalo News.

At the earliest, tax collection from these retailers will not occur until next spring, according to the report.

"We moved the enforcement date to April 1, 2008, to be realistic," Jeffrey Gordon, a Spitzer spokesman, told the Buffalo News.
Meanwhile, Spitzer's budget division told the paper the failure to collect what was expected to total $200 million in Native American taxes is a factor that poses "significant risks" to New York's revenue forecasts. The $200 million figure came from budget talks in the spring. Earlier this week, the budget forecast was revised to reflect no collection of taxes from Native American retailers for this fiscal year, according to the report.

Earlier this year, when he was beginning his administration, Spitzer publicly spoke on the state's obligation and legal right to collect taxes from Native American businesses, the report stated.

"The governor has said he believes that sales tax for sales by Indian nations to non-Indians for cigarettes should be paid, and that is why he included it in this year's budget," Gordon added. "There are sovereignty issues that need to be taken into consideration, and we are continuing to review possible approaches for collecting this revenue."

The announcement did not please industry groups.

"How interesting that Day One is now being moved to April Fool's Day," James Calvin, executive director of the New York Association of Convenience Stores, told the paper. "While they fiddle, tax-collecting mom-and-pop retailers who swallowed the campaign rhetoric about enforcing the law continue to suffer the ravages of state-sanctioned tax evasion. What a cruel hoax."