Christopher H. Schaeffer is running for New York State Senate

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The State Legislature’s Attempt To Illegally Collect Sales Tax

I would like to express my outrage with the state legislature’s attempt to illegally collect sales tax on commodities sold on the lands of the Seneca Nation. This action is unconstitutional; treaties signed by the United States Government supersede all other laws including New York State’s tax laws. New York’s Legislature sees the Seneca Nation as a cash cow they would like to milk in order to fix budgetary problems the legislature helped to create.

Article 6 Clause two of the Constitution provides that “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”

On May 20, 1842 the United States of America and the Seneca nation of Indians entered in to a treaty at Buffalo Creek, in the State of New York. Article NINTH provides “The parties to this compact mutually agree to solicit the influence of the Government of the United States to protect such of the lands of the Seneca Indians, within the State of New York, as may from time to time remain in their possession from all taxes, and assessments for roads, highways, or any other purpose until such lands shall be sold and conveyed by the said Indians, and the possession thereof shall have been relinquished by them.”

All previous attempts to collect taxes on the Seneca Nation have failed. Most notably in 1997 when civil unrest broke out, causing property damage. This unrest also caused a large-scale inconvenience for many people attempting to use the road that pass through Seneca Lands. I for one do not wish to revisit this folly.

I oppose any attempts to impose or collect taxes on Seneca Businesses. I only hope our Governor shows some common sense and abandons this ill-advised action. This attempt makes less sense than trying to collect sales tax on items purchased at the duty free shop on the Peace Bridge, or Governor Cuomo’s attempt to collect sales tax on clothing purchased in Pennsylvania.There is a large deficit in our state budget and we will need to cut spending and possibly find new sources of revenues to bring our budget in to balance. But resorting to illegal means can never be justified. The Seneca’s have been good neighbors and good friends; they deserve better treatment than this legislature has given them.

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