Western Exposure

Some Northwest Indians say tax on cigarettes violates sovereign rights

By August 19, 2009March 19th, 2015No Comments

Northwest Indians are continuing to fight for the ability to sell tax-free cigarettes to non-Indians on tribal land, insisting such restrictions violate their nation’s sovereignty,  reports Krista Kapralos of High Country News.

Since 2001, Washington State has worked with tribes to negotiate the taxation of cigarettes to non-tribal members, often allowing the tribes to keep the revenue. But the idea has seen heavy backlash as far back as 1980, when a federal court judge first imposed the right to tax cigarettes sold to non-Indians and members of other tribes on the Colville Indian Reservation.

While some feel that outside taxes should not apply to reservation smoke shops — saying it violates tribes’ sovereign right to conduct business in their own way – dozens of Pacific Northwest tribe members have faced federal charges in recent years for the sale of untaxed tobacco.

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