The Oklahoma Grocers Association reportedly is concerned about compact negotiations between the governor's office and an Indian tribe regarding what sort of tax the tribe will pay on tobacco products. The group is right to be a bit uneasy.
Mike Thornbrugh, spokesman for Tulsa-based QuikTrip Corp., tells the Tulsa World that the governor's office is considering giving the Muscogee (Creek) Nation a tax break that's greater than those now in place for tribes that have entered into compacts with the state. The Creeks do not presently have a tobacco compact. Thornbrugh has been critical of the compacts since before voters approved the new tobacco tax in 2004, and the numbers underscore why. The net 55 cents-per-pack increase requires nontribal retailers to pay a tax of $1.03 per carton; under the compacts, the rate for tribal shops can range from 6 cents to about 87 cents per pack. Noncompacted tribes are supposed to pay 76 cents per pack. The lowest tax rate is reserved for tribes with shops along the border to help them compete with states that have lower tax rates than Oklahoma.