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Tribes return to court over cigarette tax

BUFFALO — The legal battle against New York’s plans to tax most reservation cigarette sales continues in Buffalo.

Lawyers for the St. Regis Mohawk tribe of northern New York and the Unkechauges of Long Island are scheduled to argue for a preliminary injunction in U.S. District Court. The order would extend the hold on the state’s plans to apply its $4.35-per-pack sales tax on cigarettes sold by the nations’ tribal retailers to non-Indian customers.

The same judge hearing Tuesday’s arguments recently denied a similar order sought by the Seneca and Cayuga nations, but gave the western New York tribes time to appeal. A different judge, meanwhile, granted the Oneidas’ request.

The state sees the tax as a potential $200 million-a-year revenue source.