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ALBANY -- State Senator Carl Kruger is working to close the state's deficit as Senate Finance Committee chairman, and recently held a press conference urging Gov. David Paterson to collect taxes on cigarettes sold on Native American reservations to non-Native Americans.
"We have to ask everybody to share both the benefits and the burdens of being a New Yorker," Kruger was quoted saying at a press conference, by the New York Daily News. "Part of being a New Yorker is paying taxes that are assessed upon you."
He added: "Today is the day that we draw the line in the sand, and I say that we should collect before we cut. We should collect the taxes due before we cut the services. While we negotiate we should be collecting. Anything short of that is denying the rule of law."
Kruger was joined Democratic Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., according to the report. By collecting the cigarette taxes, the state's general fund could see a "cash infusion" of $135 million in December and $1.6 billion a year, according to Kruger.
Following the press conference, the New York Association of Convenience Stores (NYACS) President James Calvin voiced his support of Kruger's efforts.
"Senator Kruger and his colleagues on both sides of the aisle are absolutely justified to insist on collecting state taxes on Native American sales of cigarettes to non-Indian customers as one element of short-term and long-term deficit reduction," Calvin said in a statement. "Governor Paterson has the legal authority, the constitutional obligation and the tools at his disposal to collect these taxes."
NYACS estimates the collection of the taxes would generate $1 billion a year in new revenue.
"The taxes would be pre-collected by the Tax Department from non-Indian wholesale distributors on purchases by non-Indian consumers at Indian retail outlets." Calvin added: "A coupon system would ensure that no tribal member would pay one dime in state taxes, and no state tax inspector would need to set foot on Indian territory. It hardly sounds invasive. What's the hold-up?"
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