State tobacco taxes blocked on Yakama reservation

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YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) – A federal judge has blocked Washington state from taxing cigarette sales at Yakama tribal smokeshops.

The ruling was issued Sept. 12 by U.S. District Judge Lonny R. Suko in a lawsuit brought by the Yakama Indians and some tribal business owners.

In July, the state terminated a cigarette tax agreement with the tribe, claiming widespread sales of untaxed cigarettes to nontribal members. State officials also attempted to impose cigarette taxes on tribal smokeshops and told wholesalers not to accept the tribe’s cigarette stamps – a move that halted shipments to smokeshops.

In their lawsuit, the Yakamas argue that they should not be required to have a cigarette tax agreement with the state. The tribe’s tax is $16.20 per carton, compared with $20.25 per carton by the state.