January 22, 2017

Comanche Nation sues state over tobacco compact

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Comanche Nation has filed a federal lawsuit against Oklahoma and Gov. Mary Fallin over the tribe's tobacco tax compact, saying other tribes received more favorable terms in their contracts with the state.

The tribe claims in the lawsuit, filed Tuesday, that it will lose more than $500,000 in revenue a month if required to pay the full tax rate at its dozen retailers, which it says could potentially cause the tribe to reduce essential services to its citizens, stop construction on convenience stores and possibly lay off workers.

Since Oct. 31, the state has been giving Comanche retailers so-called "black stamps," which means they pay the full tax rate on tobacco sales, not a reduced rate given to tribes, The Oklahoman reported Wednesday.

The tribe had been renegotiating its compact for months when it says it learned other tribes were receiving a better deal.

Though compacting tribes pay a standard tax of $1.03 per pack of cigarettes, they can negotiate the amount of rebates they receive with the governor's office, according to the Oklahoma Tax Commission.