Monday, July 28, 2008

Posting and Toasting Cigarette Black Market

Kudos to the NY Post for its editorial this morning on the failure of the state to enforce its own law on Indian retailer sale of cigarettes: "Addressing the National Conference of State Legislatures in New Orleans last week, Mayor Bloomberg cut right to the chase. New York, he noted, is suffering a serious case of the shorts, due largely to a weakening national economy and a serious Wall Street downturn - while a big pot of money that could provide some relief is being left on the table. That would be the uncollected taxes on cigarettes sold on Indian reservations.
Thanks to the fundamental cowardice of Govs. George Pataki and Eliot Spitzer (Gov. Paterson is showing yellow, too, but he's new on the job), New York declined to enforce a state law mandating the collection of taxes on all tobacco products sold to non-tribe members."

It is beyond high time that the state-and now Governor Paterson-go after these uncollected taxes:"As Rep. Peter King (R-LI) pointed out in these pages a few weeks ago: "A 2006 state Department of Health report estimated that New York loses $436 million to $576 million a year in taxes from the sale of untaxed cigarettes alone - a figure that could rise to $800 million-plus this year." Whether such money would properly go to plug the MTA's deficit or for other purposes, this is a huge pool of cash. And, budgetary imperatives aside, there's an even stronger reason for collecting the tobacco taxes: It's the law."

In the coming weeks we are looking forward to raising this issue-and creating the kind of coalition that will finally convince state government to get over its cowardice and simply enforce the law. Tax payers are fed up. The Post gets the last word: "Failure to collect breeds legitimate resentment from New Yorkers who are required to pay their taxes - and understandable anger at a government which quails before one class of scofflaw while relentlessly dunning them."