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Ruling expected this week in cigarette tax saga

BUFFALO — The Seneca Indian Nation is awaiting a judge’s decision in its latest challenge of New York state’s efforts to tax reservation cigarette sales to non-Indian customers.

Last week, lawyers for the western New York tribe went to court in Buffalo asking a judge to throw out regulations adopted by the Tax Department to govern the collections. The tribe’s lawyers argued the regulations weren’t properly adopted.

Attorneys for the state disagreed.

Erie County Judge Donna Siwek said during last Wednesday’s hearing that she’d rule within a week. Meanwhile, a temporary order is preventing the $4.35-per-pack tax from being collected.

New York and its Indian nations have been at odds for years over taxing lucrative smokeshop sales. The state says it needs the revenue. The tribes say they’re sovereign and exempt from taxation.