OCTOBER TERM, 1993
certiorari to the court of appeals of new york
No. 93-377. Argued March 23, 1994—Decided June 13, 1994
Enrolled tribal members purchasing cigarettes on Indian reservations are exempt from a New York cigarette tax, but non-Indians making such purchases are not. Licensed agents precollect the tax by purchasing stamps and affixing them to cigarette packs in advance of their first sale. Determining that a large volume of unstamped cigarettes was being purchased by non-Indians on reservations, petitioner tax department enacted regulations imposing recordkeeping requirements and quantity limitations on cigarette wholesalers selling untaxed cigarettes to reservation Indians. As relevant here, the regulations set quotas on the quantity of untaxed cigarettes that wholesalers may sell to tribes and tribal retailers, and petitioner tax department must approve each such sale. Wholesalers must also ensure that a buyer holds a valid state tax exemption certificate, and must keep records of their tax-exempt sales, make monthly reports to petitioners, and, as licensed agents, precollect taxes on nonexempt sales. Respondent wholesalers are licensed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to sell cigarettes to reservation Indians. They filed separate suits in state court alleging that the regulations were pre-empted by the federal Indian Trader Statutes. The trial court issued an injunction. Ultimately, the Appellate Division upheld the regulations, but the Court of Appeals reversed, distinguishing this Court's decisions upholding taxes imposed on non-Indian purchasers of cigarettes, see Moe v. Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of Flathead Reservation, 425 U. S. 463; Washington v. Confederated Tribes of Colville Reservation, 447 U. S. 134, on the ground that they involved regulating sales to non-Indian consumers whereas New York's regulations applied to sales by non-Indian wholesalers to reservation Indians. The court concluded that the Indian Trader Statutes, as construed in Warren Trading Post Co. v. Arizona Tax Comm'n, 380 U. S. 685, deprived the States of all power to impose regulatory burdens on licensed Indian traders, and, alternatively, that if States could impose minimal burdens on the traders, New York's regulations were invalid because the burdens were significant.
Held: New York's regulations do not, on their face, violate the Indian
Trader Statutes. Pp. 69-78.
61Page: Index 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Next
Last modified: October 4, 2007