Stealing from the Poor to Give to the Rich: Why New York Should Abandon Attempts to Collect Fuel Taxes on Reservations
"This article will examine whether New York should impose and collect sales and excise taxes on fuel sold by reservation businesses to non-members. The answer to that question depends largely on whether and under what circumstances New York can impose any taxes on reservation businesses. The discussion should also be guided by the practical realities that result from taxation, for example, the economic effects. Accordingly, this article will analyze the current state of the law regarding state taxation of reservation activities and the potential consequences of further State attempts to collect taxes. Part II will examine reservations in New York. The population of Indians in New York, the geographic characteristics of reservations, and the economic realities of reservation life will all be explored. Part III will discuss a State’s authority to impose taxes on Indians and non Indians, on and off-reservation. Part III will focus on New York. Included will be a discussion of the relevant treaties and longstanding precedent. Part IV will examine New York’s current taxing scheme and New York’s recently failed attempt at reservation taxation. Part V will argue in favor of self-restraint on part of the New York legislature. The argument will be supported by an examination of the real economic consequences of inducing reliance on a policy of non-taxation and subsequent, abrupt imposition of unjust taxes on reservation activities. In Part VI, this article will conclude with a plea to New York voters to hold legislators responsible for failing to fulfill their duty to represent the best interests of the entire population, including reservation members."