Believe What You Like But Know What You Must

People are free to be consumed with contemplating their existence, their origins, the origins of the universe, supreme beings, controllers of destiny or anything else. But solving "the Great Mystery" is neither a requirement of being Ohnkwe Ohnwe nor does it provide a path to righteousness. I maintain that spirituality does not require faith or the leaps that faith requires but rather awareness. If it helps to believe that "God has a plan" and we just must have faith that "He" knows what "He" is doing, then walk that path. My interest is in taking the mystery out of life by pointing to the obvious that is ignored everyday in the midst of fanatical ideology and the sometimes not too subtle influences of promoting beliefs over knowledge. I have said it before: “beliefs are what you are told, knowledge is what you experience”. I support a culture that prepares us to receive knowledge and to live a life with purpose. I am certainly not suggesting there is only one way to do that.

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Monday, July 2, 2012

Senator Maziarz Calls on the NYS Tax Commissioner to Put the State's Policy in Writing; Again!

June 27,2012

Commissioner Thomas H. Mattox
New York State Department of Taxation and Finance
Building 9, State Campus
Albany, New York 12227

Re:  Native American Cigarettes

Dear Commissioner Mattox:

I write today as a follow-up to my May 16, 2011 letter regarding the collection of New York State Sales Tax on Native territories for the sale of tobacco products to individuals that are not Native American. To date, I have not received a response from your office to clarify the State's policy on this issue.

In the meantime, there have been other developments relating to Native American cigarettes that require further clarification from your office. For instance, the NYS Office of the Attorney General recently directed certain manufacturers of Native Brand cigarettes to cease and desist shipping, selling and distributing such brands in New York State (including on Native territories). The Attorney General's office cited the role of licensed stamping agents and required state excise taxes as the reason for the order.

The position of the attorney General's office seems to contradict a recent decision of the NYS Supreme Court in St. Lawrence County. The June 18, 2012 decision related to the taxability and seizure of Native American cigarettes that were made by a New York manufacturer and shipped out-of-state. In that decision, the judge rejected the contention that New York State tax laws only allow manufacturers of Native Brands to make out-of-state sales through a licensed agent so the taxes can be prepaid through the purchase of stamps.

In my view, the recent court case acknowledges that Native Brand cigarettes that are produced and sold on lands owned by Native Nations constitute commerce that is Native to Native. As such, these transactions cannot (and should not) be regulated or taxed by the State of New York. To do so would be contrary to the sovereign rights of the Native American Nations, and would have a significant negative impact on the Native retail economy.

Although the NYS Supreme Court case starts to provide some direction on the status of the taxation of Native American cigarettes, there is still much uncertainty in this area. Consequently, we request that you provide written clarification to us as soon as possible. It is critical that the citizens of New York and their elected representatives know the intention of your Department with regard to the collection of State taxes on Native Brand cigarettes and tobacco products.

I look forward to your timely reply and toward working with you to resolve these important issues. 


George D. Maziarz
Senator, 62nd District  


John Kane said...

It was a year ago when Senator Maziarz first stated his position on Native to Native trade along with Senator Tim Kennedy to the Department of Taxation and Finance. In that letter both senators called on the commissioner to put the State's policy in writing then too. The question must be asked that if two state senators, one from each party, can't get a response from the tax department how can the state legally take any action against us in this area.

Anonymous said...

Hi John,

FYI a virus message pops up from my security softwear when I tried to click to listen on any of the shows. JS. Alescurf virus it says. Just thought you should know.

John Kane said...

I am not getting any such message. Try going to my page on the KB site; Let me know if you still get the warnings. This is actually the source from my blog so I am curious.