YAKIMA – A federal judge has blocked Washington state from taxing cigarette sales at Yakama tribal smokes shops.
The ruling was issued Friday 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 smoke shops and told wholesalers not to accept the tribe’s cigarette stamps – a move that halted shipments to smoke shops.
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 a carton, compared with $20.25 a carton by the state.