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Tribes, IRS Making Progress on Tax Issues

Dave Palermo is an award-winning metropolitan newspaper reporter. He has written about American Indian governments for more than 20 years, working as an advocate for several tribes and tribal associations. He also has co-authored books on gambling and gambling law. He can be reached at

(Blog) Dave Palermo: Tribes, IRS Making Progress on Tax Issues

It was during a September hearing of the House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs that Rep. Don Young, D-Alaska, grew a bit impatient with witness Christy Jacobs, director of the Internal Revenue Service’s Office of Indian Tribal Governments,

At issue was an April letter from the IRS Portland office that stated per capita payments from tribal trust resources to citizens of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs could be subject to taxation, reversing several decades of federal policy that per capita payments are tax exempt. A similar letter was sent to the Yakama Nation.

“Christy, I’m a little confused,” Young said. “Where did this idea come from? Which brainchild and what area of the moon did they come from?

“Did we have some little energetic individual that thinks, ‘I’ll go get those Indian tribes [and] they have to pay their money?’”

Jacobs acknowledged the letter was a massive mistake.

“I do not believe that per capita payments made to tribal members pursuant to the Per Capita Act from trust resources are taxable,” she said.

The very notion Treasury and the IRS would consider taxing per capita payments from tribal resources, exempt under the Per Capita Act of 1983, struck Young as a gross injustice.

“Per capita payments are not government handouts,” Young said. “They are benefits that belong to Indians secure in terms of negotiated treaties and statutes whereby tribes ceded tens of millions of acres of land to the United States.

“It would be a grave injustice to tax revenues originated from lands” held in tribal trusts, he said.

American Indian tribes have for several years been monitoring and at times fending off efforts by Treasury and the IRS to revise or reinterpret the tax status of tribal governments.

Fortunately for indigenous communities, recent moves to alter the taxability of per capita payments from tribal trust resources and re-examine the tax exempt status of health care and social welfare programs funded by casino revenues have been resolved to the benefit of tribes.

A December Treasury guidance document states that per capital payments to citizens of some 40 tribes arising out of the recent federal trust settlement lawsuit will not be included in the individual’s gross income for tax purposes.

Another threat was averted Dec. 5, when Treasury and the IRS unveiled a revised draft of the General Welfare Exclusion (GWE) doctrine that, in effect, recognizes that most tribal government services are to remain tax exempt, even those funded with gambling revenues.

The draft GWE doctrine was the result of months of consultations between Treasury, the IRS and the Intertribal Organization Tax Initiative (IOTI), a coalition comprised of the National Congress of American Indians, Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA), United South and Eastern Tribes (USET) and the California Association of Tribal Governments.

The GWE doctrine generally calls for the IRS to continue to exempt from taxation most social service programs provided by state, municipal, county and tribal governments.

Comments on the draft doctrine are open till June 3.

To their credit, Treasury and IRS officials were willing to work with IOTI in settling the long simmering dispute over the tax status of social programs for this country’s indigenous citizens, many of whom remain locked in cyclical poverty and unemployment.

“[IRS and Treasury] were very interested in what the tribes had to say,” said Lynn Malerba, chief of the Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut and USET’s representative to IOTI.

“This wasn’t adversarial at all. It was a very cordial effort and the IRS and Treasury … incorporated a lot of their comments into their guidance.”

“Treasury and the IRS are now publicly committed to issuing new written guidelines on this subject,” Aaron Klein, Treasury’s deputy assistant secretary for economic policy coordination, said of the agency’s doctrine on the tax exempt status of social service programs offered by state, local and tribal governments.

 “In doing so we will remain mindful of the comments and position thoughtfully articulated by tribes and tribal leaders.”

The progress made in tribal consultations with the IRS and Treasury should be applauded.

“The consultations with the IRS have worked,” said NAFOA Executive Director Dante Desidario. “The agency is taking the tribal concerns seriously.”

But what remains disconcerting is the apparently ignorance of tribal self-governance and the economic state of tribal communities that planted the seeds of IRS and Treasury suspicions and, eventually, the assault of auditors on tribal lands.

Much of the misconceptions are fueled by tribal government gambling.

There is a looming perception among the public and too many elected officials and federal bureaucrats that indigenous communities are less culturally rich, sovereign governments than they are prospering casino operators.

That is, of course, far from the truth.

While it was congressional intent of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act to strengthen tribal governments and build strong, diversified tribal economies, the results have been mixed.

Of the 421 casinos audited by the National Indian Gaming Commission in 2011, 78 of them (18.6 percent) generated $19.4bn, or 71.8 percent of the gross revenues from tribal gambling nationwide.

Many of the more lucrative casinos are operated by small tribes in urban areas, leaving the larger, more remote tribes in the Southwest and Great Plaines with marginal casino operations, providing jobs but little in the way of economic progress.

Yet tribal leaders have in the last decade complained that IRS auditors were descending on often impoverished reservations, requesting documents on such government aid as school clothes, burial rituals, elder care and even minor housing repairs.

“Self-governance tribes dedicate their own resources to supplement federal funding for programs intended to benefit tribes and their members,” Malerba said.

“Yet, in recent years, the IRS has increasingly sought to tax what were previously understood as non-taxable benefits provided by tribes to their members.”

“Our weather gets quite cold in South Dakota and some of our homes only have wood heat,” said President John Yellow Bird/Steele of the Oglala Sioux Tribe on the poverty-ridden Pine Ridge Reservation, home to the Prairie Ridge Hotel & Casino.

“It’s imperative the tribe help out with energy assistance: buying a pickup load of wood; helping to pay a light bill; buying some propane,” Steele told a recent Senate Indian Affairs committee hearing.

“Do we give a 1099 [tax form] to all of these people?”

Tribal leaders as early as 2006 began noticing an increase in IRS audits of tribal programs, a trend they believe was prompted by economic growth on tribal land and the fact about 70 of 246 tribes with casinos in 28 states issue per capita payments to members.

Ironically, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), which provides a regulatory framework for the nation’s $27.2bn tribal gambling industry, states that that casino revenues be used for the general welfare of tribal citizens.

Gambling revenues have been used by tribal governments to subsidize housing, education, health care, cultural and religious activities and other notoriously underfunded federal programs promised to tribes in treaty agreements.

But IGRA also requires that the tribe deduct and withhold income taxes from gambling revenues paid directly to tribal members.

“The IRS has frequently initiated its audits on the presumption that tribal general welfare benefits are actually disguised per capita payments from tribal gaming revenues” subject to taxation, Malerba said.

“IRS field auditors began examinations with a bias and presumption of guilt until proven innocence.”

“One IRS agent ruled that tribal citizens who benefited from a tribal government program should be taxed on the part of the revenue generated from gaming proceeds,” said Bill Lomax, president of the Native American Finance Officers Association, a member of the tribal coalition.

“The same benefit from other revenues was considered exempt.”

Lomax said tribes had been singled out for GWE audits.

Treasury in a 2007 work plan said it had in the previous two years conducted 139 examinations on tribal governments “that focused specifically on the use of net gaming revenues,” Lomax said.

The results of the investigations are not known.

“The taxability of [GWE] benefits from state and local governments was not even mentioned,” he said.

The IRS in 2006 began auditing casino tribes purchasing health insurance for its members, threatening to tax the benefits as income.

Mark Macarro, chairman of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, led an effort to amend the Affordable Health Care Act to keep the benefits tax exempt.

The landmark draft GWE doctrine was unveiled Dec. 5, when more than 500 tribal leaders attended the fourth White House Tribal Nations Summit in Washington.

The draft GWE guidance sets down what aspects of tribal government education, housing, cultural and elder care assistant programs can be tax exempt. It requires that tax exempt assistance to tribal citizens be made through a government program, promote general welfare based on community and family needs and does not constitute payments for services.

The landmark GWE doctrine and largely conciliatory consultations between federal and tribal officials is expected to help resolve the complex issue of taxing Indian tribes and Alaska Native villages, many experiencing economic progress through government gambling.

“A key challenge for tribal nations is economic development,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin told leaders at the summit. “Many of your communities face poverty, high unemployment and lack of good paying jobs.

“Effective immediately, tribes can rely on this guidance and have comfort that programs that meet these guidelines will be respected by IRS."

The proposed guidance generally exempts from taxation assistance from a government program that is not compensation for services.

Treasury said exclusions from taxation are housing payments to help individuals and families acquire modest homes or apartments, aid for disaster victims, education expenses, medical or dental assistance and services of a shaman or medicine men or women for health and spiritual and cultural reasons.

NAFOA Executive Director Dante Desiderio said tribes are pleased with the proposed GWE doctrine, in part because it is not based on the economic need of the individual,

 “The idea is that we as tribes don't base our benefits and services on financial need,” he said. “It's the need of the community.”

Malerba said the draft doctrine also recognizes that unlike non-Indian governments, tribal reservations “are also communities of familial relations who hold property and resources communally.

“Their leaders have been charged with the responsibility to maintain and foster culture and traditions and revitalize languages,” she said, programs that should not be subject to taxation.

“The difficulty has been each application is fact specific,” Jacobs said. “And the historical and cultural context within the tribal government environment adds a layer of complexity.”

Part of the consultations involved educating Treasury and IRS officials about the unique needs of indigenous communities.

 “[Tribes] are very different from other governments,” Klein said. “We need to respect and understand [cultural programs and language revitalization] are purposes of the tribe.”

There will be an effort to train IRS agents about the cultural distinctions of tribal communities in doing future GWE audits.

“Tribes should be able to determine what services are offered to their communities and what criteria should be developed to administer those programs,” Malerba said.

“Even if tribes have had success with their gaming, they’re rebuilding their communities, their nations. And they’re using [gambling] funds to supplement federal trust and treaty programs and responsibilities that have been chronically underfunded. It’s important that we put gaming in that context.

“The state of Virginia decides what programs it will provide for its citizens. We are sovereigns as well. We will determine what is right and appropriate for our communities.” 



Tribal Taxation


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article Junk food tax clears Navajo Nation Council
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article Navajo Nation Council Approves Junk Food Tax to Fight Obesity
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article Tribe plans meeting with Coachella Valley officials on tax issue
(California) -- Coachella Valley officials are gathering Friday for a private meeting with the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians to hear about the tribe’s...


article Top 10 Indian Tribal Tax Developments In 2013 And Priorities For 2014
(USA) -- In 2013, courts were active in issues relating to Indian tribes, including ruling on state tax matters and the federal income tax aspects of Section 17...


article Tribe Files Lawsuit to End Illegal County Taxation in California
(California) -- The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians are taking the fight to Riverside County, arguing that the County’s possessory interest tax imposed on...


article Agua Caliente tribe sues Riverside County over tax
(California) -- The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians has filed a new lawsuit, asking a federal judge to stop Riverside County from collecting a tax the tribe has...
article Tax dispute prompts Agua Caliente lawsuit
(California) -- An Inland Indian tribe is taking Riverside County to court over what tribal officials say is an illegal tax that doesn’t benefit their reservation.


article Tribe ordered to pay up taxes
(Nova Scotia) -- Halifax County Commissioners informed the Haliwa-Saponi Tribe on Monday it’s time to pay the taxes.


article Yakama Nation and state reach sensible accord on fuel taxes
(Washington) -- The state of Washington and the Yakama Nation have agreed on a new and improved way to collect fuel taxes at gas stations on the reservation.


article State and Yakama Nation reach agreement on fuel taxes
(Washington) -- The Department of Licensing and the Yakama Nation recently settled a long-standing dispute about how to collect fuel taxes on fuel sold at gas stations...


article Tribal Gas Station Files For Tax Exemption, Bloomfield Businesses Outraged
(Nebraska) -- A law passed over 2 decades ago in Congress allows the Ponca tribe of Nebraska to be exempt from paying taxes on up to 1,500 acres of land. So the tribe...
article Tribe waiting for tax exemption decision from Halifax County commissioners
(Nova Scotia) -- The Haliwa-Saponi Tribe will have to wait a little longer for a decision on a property tax exemption from the Halifax County Board of Commissioners.


article Navajo Nation could place additional tax on junk food
(New Mexico) -- Buying chips and a soda on the Navajo Nation could get more expensive if a proposal to increase the sales tax on junk food is enacted. As the number of...


article Governor will support appeal of Ponca’s actions
(Nebraska) -- Gov. Dave Heineman has indicated he will support efforts to appeal action taken by the Ponca tribe to have The White Eagle Express in Bloomfield exempt...


article Tribal Parcels Not Subject to Village Tax, Federal Appeals Court Rules
(Wisconsin) -- A Wisconsin village with tribal parcels held in trust by the U.S. government cannot assess municipal taxes against the Indian tribe, a federal appeals...


article 7th Circuit blocks village from imposing fees on Oneida Nation
(New York) -- The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has sided with the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin in a dispute over fees imposed on trust land. The court ruled that the...


article New tribal land tax law causing alarm in Palm Springs
(California) -- A change to a federal regulation governing surface rights on tribal land could dramatically alter local taxing authority, especially in Palm Springs...


article Other gaming tribes support Mashantuckets' review request in tax ruling
(Connecticut) -- Five Indian tribes, including Florida's Seminoles, are backing the Mashantucket Pequots' request that a federal appellate court revisit a ruling...


article Tribal leaseholders seek tax refunds / Desert Water Agency filed suit to change new federal tax rule
(California) -- Leaseholders on tribal land are asking for property tax refunds because of a change in federal regulations that also prompted a local water authority to...


article Tribal Sovereignty Supported in Latest Tax Reform Bill
(Washington D.C.) -- A California congressman has introduced a far-reaching tax reform bill clarifying that sovereign tribal nations are as tax exempt as states and...


article Connecticut casino towns expect windfall from slot leasing tax
(Connecticut) -- Montville's finance director says that town is expecting a $129,000 windfall as a result of this summer's federal court ruling that allows...


article Federal judge rejects Mohawk tribe's land suit
(New York) -- A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe aimed at blocking local municipal laws and taxes on land called the Hogansburg...


article Ledyard owed thousands after slot tax ruling
(Connecticut) -- The Ledyard town government has received about $100,000 in tax payments from slot machine leasing companies since a July 15 court ruling, Mayor John...


article Ruling On Leased Slots Opens Door To On-Reservation Personal Property Taxes
(Connecticut) -- In Mashantucket Pequot Tribe v. Town of Ledyard, an opinion certain to echo throughout Indian Country, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals recently...


article Repay Illegally Taxed Native American Veterans! Says NCAI
(Washington D.C.) --  The National Congress of American Indians passed a resolution recently urging Congress to recompense eligible Native American service members...


article Court of appeals: Thurston County can't tax Great Wolf Lodge
(Washington) -- Thurston County won’t be able to assess a property tax on the south county resort known as Great Wolf Lodge after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the...
article Washington's Thurston County Loses Effort to Tax The Chehalis Indian Tribe's New Casino
(Washington) -- A casino that was built on land held in trust for the Chehalis Indian tribe, off its reservation, should not be taxed by state and local governments, the...


article Ruling On Leased Slots Opens Door To On-Reservation Personal Property Taxes
(Connecticut) -- In Mashantucket Pequot Tribe v. Town of Ledyard, an opinion certain to echo throughout Indian Country, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals recently...


article LEGAL BLOG: In Ledyard, 2nd Circuit Says Local Governments May Tax Non-Indian Personal Property Located On Indian Reservations
(Connecticut) -- Reversing a district court order that would have preempted the imposition of local taxes on personal property located on Indian reservations and...
article Tax refund unconstitutional
(Arizona) -- The Arizona attorney general ruled that a state statute dealing with a land dispute involving the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe is unconstitutional.


article State aims to increase tribe’s tobacco sales tax
(Oklahoma) -- The Cherokee Nation Attorney General’s Office is still negotiating with Oklahoma officials on a new tobacco compact, but a sticking point seems to be...
article Attacking Sovereignty: 2nd Circuit Rules to Tax Slots at Tribal Casino
(Connecticut) -- A federal appeals court has ruled that the slot machines leased by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe from non-tribal businesses can be taxed.


article Leased Slot Machines For Tribes Can Be Taxed [sub req'd]
(Connecticut) -- In a decision that could have ramifications for other Native American casinos, a federal appeals court this week ruled that slot machines leased by the...
article NY court rejects Conn. Indian casino tax lawsuit
(New York) -- An Indian tribe in Connecticut has lost its bid in a New York court to prove it does not owe local and state taxes on slot machines at its Foxwoods Resort...


article Ka-Ching! Ledyard Can Tax Mashantuckets' Leased Slot Machines
(Connecticut) -- A federal court has ruled that Ledyard can tax slot machines leased by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and used in the tribe's casino.


article Court ruling worth thousands in taxes to Ledyard
(Connecticut) -- Ledyard Mayor John Rodolico figures the town is entitled to more than a half-million dollars in unpaid back taxes, interest and fees in the wake of an...


press release Indian Tribal Settlement Taxes Phone Forum
(Washington D.C.) -- The office of Indian Tribal Governments will host a 60 minute phone forum on June 26, 2013at 2 p.m. (EST) to discuss federal income taxation of:...


article Editorial: Andrew Cuomo shrewdly pushes tribes on casino taxes
(New York) -- Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's plan to expand casino gambling is starting to look particularly cunning: Even if he doesn't get full table games at non-...
press release Indian Country Tax Strategy Meeting
(Washington D.C.) -- On Tuesday, June 4, the National Indian Gaming Association and the Lummi Nation hosted tribal leaders in the Nation's Capitol for an Indian...


article Bill would require state to reimburse Cayuga, other counties that don't receive property tax payments from Indian nations
(New York) -- Legislation sponsored by several central New York representatives would require the state to reimburse counties affected by the failure of Indian nations...
article County board denies tribe appeal
(Oklahoma) -- The Comanche County Board of Equalization on Wednesday denied an appeal from the Comanche Nation of a property tax bill for a building that houses tribal...


article Online Collection Gives U.S. Indians Ways to Get Revenue: Taxes
(Washington D.C.) -- Indian reservations are close to being put on a more equal tax footing with states. The Senate added language to the Internet sales tax bill that...
article BC committee debates paying for transit by taxing First Nations
(Vancouver) -- A Metro Vancouver regional district committee is floating the idea of imposing a levy on the area's aboriginals to add millions to its cash-strapped...


article Experts: Tribal tax rule change a big deal
(California) -- Legal experts say a new federal regulation at the center of a lawsuit brought by Desert Water Agency could lead to dramatic changes to what money state...


article Comanche Nation protests property tax
(Oklahoma) -- A Comanche County board heard tax protests from the Comanche Nation and the owners of a Lawton apartment complex during a meeting Wednesday.


article Senate OKs tribal land tax exemption bill
(Idaho) -- The Senate approved a bill forbidding counties from taxing tribal government land on the state's reservations. The 33-2 decision came after brief debate...
article The end of tribal taxes / Only governor's approval needed for tribal property tax exemption
(Idaho) -- Coeur d'Alene Tribe officials were celebrating on Tuesday afternoon, when the state Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill forbidding counties from taxing...
article Tribal property tax exemption bill passes Senate 33-2, heads to gov
(Idaho) -- HB 140, the bill brought by the Coeur d’Alene Tribe on behalf of all of Idaho’s Indian tribes to clarify that reservation property owned by tribal...


article Tribal tax clarification bill wins backing of Senate committee, despite last-minute objections from Benewah County
(Idaho) -- The Senate Local Government & Taxation Committee has unanimously approved HB 140, the bill to clarify that land owned by tribal governments is exempt from...


article County sets sights on taxing tribal businesses
(Oklahoma) -- Indian tribes, billboards and wind turbines may soon be providing new sources of property tax revenue if Comanche County Assessor Richard Strickland gets...


article House approves tribal lands tax exemption bill
(Idaho) -- The House has approved a bill that would forbid counties from taxing tribal government land on the state's reservations.


article Yakama tribal tobacco manufacturer loses round in federal court
(Washington) -- A Yakima tribal cigarette manufacturer could be on the hook for some $30 million in federal tobacco taxes under a recent federal court ruling.
article Tax dispute moves to U.S. District Court
(Nebraska) -- The Omaha Tribe of Nebraska has convinced a tribal court judge that it has the authority to tax alcohol sales in the village of Pender.


article Judge: Yakama Nation tobacco company subject to federal taxes
(Washington) -- A ruling by a federal judge in Spokane could open a Yakama Nation tobacco company to tens of millions of dollars in tax liability.
article Omaha Tribe wins round in Pender booze tax fight
(Nebraska) -- The Omaha Tribe has won a round in its struggle with the village of Pender and alcohol retailers regarding the reservation boundaries and the tribe's...


article House panel agrees: Bad idea to tax Indian land
(Idaho) -- The House Revenue and Taxation Committee unanimously passed a bill that would forbid counties from taxing tribal government land on the state's...
article Idaho House committee passes bill to forbid counties from taxing tribal government land
(Idaho) -- The Idaho House Revenue and Taxation Committee unanimously passed a bill that would forbid counties from taxing tribal government land on the state's...
article Rev & Tax unanimously backs bill to clarify that counties can’t tax tribal lands on reservations
(Idaho) -- There was no opposition, and the House Revenue & Taxation Committee was unanimous this morning in backing HB 140, the bill to clarify that tribe-owned...


article Commissioners cancel tribe's property taxes
(Idaho) -- Kootenai County commissioners in northern Idaho have voted to cancel all property taxes on Coeur d'Alene Tribe reservation land for the last four years.


article Coeur d'Alene Tribe's property taxes canceled
(Idaho) -- After a meeting with Coeur d'Alene Tribe officials on Friday, Kootenai County commissioners voted unanimously to cancel all property taxes on reservation...


article Judge rules against Yakamas again in state fuel tax fight
(Washington) -- A federal judge has delivered the Yakama Nation a second blow in its fight against the state over fuel taxes on the reservation.


article Idaho tribes: Tell counties not to tax Indian land
(Idaho) -- Idaho tribes want the Legislature to tell counties to quit taxing tribal government land on the state's reservations.
article Tribes vs. property tax / House Bill would make reservation land exempt from property taxes
(Idaho) -- Seeking equality for tribal governments, a lobbyist from the Coeur d'Alene Tribe encouraged the Legislature on Monday to halt counties' taxation of...


article Tribal Help—Without Tax
(USA) -- Housing and education assistance, elder care and cultural programs for American Indians funded by tribal government casinos will remain tax-exempt under a draft...


article Yakama gas tax dispute now in federal court
(Washington) -- A dispute between the state of Washington and the Yakama Nation over the fuel tax is headed for federal court. A federal judge last week tossed out a...


article Another Round Aginst Puyallup Tobacco Taxing
(Washington) -- A cigarette seller can renew its challenge to a tax contract between the Puyallup Indian Tribe and the state of Washington, the 9th Circuit said Monday.


article Senator Max Baucus: Fighting for tax fairness in Indian Country
(Washington D.C.) -- As Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over taxes, health care, trade, and Social Security, I’m in a unique...


blog Dave Palermo: Tribes, IRS Making Progress on Tax Issues
(Washington D.C.) -- It was during a September hearing of the House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs that Rep. Don Young, D-Alaska, grew a bit impatient...


article State takes fight over Yakama fuel tax to federal court
(Washington) -- A fight between the Yakama Nation and the state over a scrapped agreement that allowed tribal gas station owners to buy bulk fuel mostly free of state...
article Yakamas' feud with Wash. over fuel taxes in court
(Washington) -- Washington state has filed suit in federal court against the Yakama Nation over a disagreement about state fuel taxes.


article Some Indians, Not Many, Earned Above $200,000
(USA) -- How many American Indians will see their tax rates go up at the beginning of 2013? It is impossible to tell, but here’s an interesting stat of some who...


article No Tax Revenue For Casino Calls
(New Mexico) -- Bernalillo County commissioners say they plan to take a closer look at how much it costs to provide fire and rescue services to tribal casinos and small...


article Yakama Nation sues Wash. state over gas tax deal
(Washington) -- The Yakama Nation has filed suit against the state of Washington for abandoning an agreement that allowed tribal gas station owners to buy bulk fuel...
article Native American Tribe Taxing Rules Spelled Out By Treasury
(Washington D.C.) -- Taxes cannot be levied on honoraria to a shaman or spiritual leader for religious services, but could be assessed on per-capita payments from...


article Yakama Nation sues Wash. state over gas tax deal
(Washington) -- The Yakama Nation has filed suit against the state of Washington for abandoning an agreement that allowed tribal gas station owners to buy bulk fuel...


article Washington County sues Passamaquoddy tribe over tax claim
(Maine) -- Washington County has filed suit against the Passamaquoddy nation, seeking recovery of payments in lieu of taxes dating to 2006. While no dollar amount is...


article Cherokee Nation exempts Cherokee vets from sales tax
(Oklahoma) -- Cherokee veterans will soon not pay sales tax on items purchased from Cherokee Nation-owned businesses.


article Navajo Nation president signs off on tax bill
(Arizona) -- Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly has signed off on a bill that boosts the tribe's sales tax by 1%. The increase from 4% to 5% begins in January and is...


article Tensions soar at Indian reservation over taxes
(New York) -- Tensions are mounting on a small indian reservation in northern New York over whether the tribe should be paying property taxes. The tax dispute raises the...


article Many believe aboriginal people don't pay enough taxes
(Saskatchewan) -- A new poll suggests more than 60 per cent of Saskatchewan people believe aboriginal people don't pay enough taxes. The University of Saskatchewan...


article State reviews casino tax rates
(New Mexico) -- A number of options to address the disparity between state gaming tax rates on racetrack casinos in New Mexico and the revenue sharing delivered to the...
article Tax on Navajoland may increase by 1 percent
(Arizona) -- If President Ben Shelly signs the Navajo Nation Sales Tax Distribution Reform Act of 2012 into law, the sales tax on the reservation would increase by 1-...


article Navajo Nation increases sales tax
(New Mexico) -- Purchases are expected to cost a little more on the Navajo Nation, but for good cause, Navajo Nation officials said Friday.
article Navajo Nation signed a bill increasing the tribes sales tax
(New Mexico) -- Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly is expected to sign a bill this week that would increase the tribe's sales tax by 1 percent.


article Tribes Say IRS Moves to Tax Tribal Per Capita Payments; Congress Investigates
(Washington D.C.) -- Three tribal leaders testified before the U.S. Congress on September 15 that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was moving to tax non-gaming per...


article Yakamas to consider commerce department this week
(Washington) -- Yakama tribal members will hold a special meeting Tuesday through Thursday to discuss establishing a new department of commerce to enforce business...


article Washington Court Ruling Moves Tribal Gas Station Suit Forward
(Washington) -- The Washington State Supreme Court has moved legal challenge to the state's gas tax refunds to Native American tribes forward, ruling the 2010...
article GALANDA: Federal Indian Country Tax Incentives Expire
(Washington) -- Amidst partisan gridlock in the Beltway over national tax policy, Congress has allowed several tax incentives designed to attract private development and...


article Local Tribes Could Lose Gas Tax Exemption
(Washington) -- Local tribes could lose the ability to use their gas tax exemption for non-highway purposes after a state Supreme Court ruling last week. A group of non-...
article Tribal Gas Stations Get a Sweetheart Deal in Washington
(Washington) -- Is the state helping Native American gas stations undercut their off-reservation competitors? That's the claim of a lawsuit that got a go-ahead from...


article BROADMAN: Washington Supremes: Attack On Tribal Gas Stations Can Continue
(Washington) -- The Washington State Supreme Court held 5-4 today that AUTO’s lawsuit attacking Tribe-State Fuel Tax Agreements can move forward.
article OP/ED: The tribal sovereign immunity case and the governor
(Washington) -- Automotive United Trades Organization v. State of Washington came down Thursday from the Washington Supreme Court.
article Wash. SC allows suit over tribal gas disbursements to move forward
(Washington) -- The Washington Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a lawsuit brought against state officials over disbursements given to Indian tribes under fuel tax...
article Wash. Supreme Court Ruling Clears Way For Lawsuit Over Tribal Gas Stations
(Washington) -- Gas station owners in Washington have won the right to proceed with a lawsuit against the state. They’re challenging the policy of gas tax refunds...


article Challenge to tribe's gas tax treaties OK'd
(Washington) -- Opening the door to questions about sovereignty and compacts in Indian Country, the Washington state Supreme Court said Thursday in a split verdict that...
article Supreme Court allows lawsuit on state gas-tax deal with Indian tribes to proceed
(Washington) -- A challenge by gas stations to the state’s deals with Indian tribes on gas taxes can proceed, the state Supreme Court ruled today.
article Supreme Court: Tribal gas tax lawsuit can proceed
(Washington) -- A lawsuit that alleges the state illegally gives millions of dollars in gas tax money to Indian tribes can proceed, even if tribes are immune under...


article IRS asked to treat tribal commercial activities as government activities
(Washington D.C.) -- Witnesses at a July 10, 2012 IRS hearing asked the government to revise its anticipated proposed regulations to limit the classification of tribal...

Other Blog Posts by This Author


Dave Palermo: A New Era Emerging in Tribal/Labor Relations
(California) -- The united stand California’s American Indians took against organized labor intrusion into tribal governance 15 years ago is rapidly dissipating as...


Dave Palermo: GOP Using GAO Audit to Criticize Tribal Casino Regulations
(Washington D.C.) -- Republican senators are using a General Accountability Office audit of the National Indian Gaming Commission to booster their belief the American...


Dave Palermo: Tribes Cite ‘Illegal’ Card Room Games in Questioning State Regulatory Resources
(California) -- The inability of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to prevent what he called “illegal” activity in California card rooms indicate the agency...


Dave Palermo: California Needs ‘Hard Look’ at Gambling Regulations, Lopes Says
(California) -- California’s top gambling industry regulator, in announcing his retirement Thursday, said the state should “take a hard look” at its...


Dave Palermo: Lopes, Littleton Recuse Themselves from Lytle Licensing Case
(California) -- The California Gambling Control Commission (CGCC) chairman has recused himself from deliberating the licensing of former industry enforcement director...


Dave Palermo: I-Poker Prospects Looks Dim Despite Gray/Hall Alliance
(California) -- Despite optimism generated by companion Senate/Assembly bills seeking Internet poker in California, it remains unlikely legislation will make it out of...


Dave Palermo: Tribal Moves on Tracks, ‘Bad Actors’ Does Not Bode Well for Online Poker
(California) -- The decision last week by three California tribes to embrace licensing racing associations and softening “bad actor” language in proposed...


Dave Palermo: Three More Tribes Embrace Tracks on Internet Poker
(California) -- Three politically powerful California tribes and 24 card rooms are recommending to state Assembly sponsors of Internet poker bills that “bad actor...


Dave Palermo: Tribes Divided into Three Groups on Internet Poker in California
(California) -- What was described last year as a coalition of a dozen American Indian tribes united on legislative language to enact an Internet poker bill in...


Dave Palermo: ‘Let’s Revisit Bifurcated Regulatory System,’ Gatto says
(California) -- The effectiveness of California’s politically bifurcated gambling regulatory system and its enforcement arm under the state Attorney General should...


Dave Palermo: New California Draft Poker Bill Includes Race Tracks
(California) -- A second draft bill to legalize Internet poker in California that would include the pari-mutuel racing industry along with American Indian tribes and...


Dave Palermo: Potential Conflict In AG’s Lytle Licensing Investigation
(California) -- California gambling regulatory officials who will rule on the licensing of a former casino enforcement chief accused of jeopardizing a $119 million card...


Dave Palermo: Lytle Corruption Probe May Hurt I-Poker Effort
(California) -- An investigation into alleged corruption in the California gambling enforcement agency may hurt attempts to get legislative approval of online poker,...


Dave Palermo: GAO Casino Audit Concerns Tribal Regulators
(Washington D.C.) -- A federal audit of American Indian casinos is generating concern among tribal officials who fear the report will suggest a need for broader...


Dave Palermo: Online Gambling Imminent, But Concerns Remain
(California) -- With the Internet poker debate moving to the Assembly side of the California Legislature, American Indian leaders and lobbyists are expressing renewed...


Dave Palermo: Progress on Land/Trust in California, But There’s a Ways to Go
(California) -- American Indian tribes are being told California Gov. Jerry Brown will monitor what has been a series of letters from Attorney General (AG) Kamala Harris...


Dave Palermo: NIGC opinion crucial to Bay Mills case
(Washington D.C.) -- A 2010 opinion by the federal Indian gambling regulatory agency that it has no jurisdiction over a tiny, Vanderbilt, Mich., casino could lead to a...


Dave Palermo: Lytton Band of Pomo Indians Leave The California Tribal Business Alliance (CTBA)
(California) -- The Lytton Band of Pomo Indians, operators of San Pablo Lytton Casino, a non-compacted, Class II casino near San Francisco, is no longer a member of the...


Dave Palermo: Tribes close, yet so far on Internet consensus
(California) -- Amended Internet poker legislation sponsored by California Senator Lou Correa and backed by a coalition of American Indian tribes under the leadership of...


Dave Palermo: Tribes angry at California AG’s land/trust letters to Interior
(California) -- American Indians are outraged at the California Attorney General’s stepped-up opposition to tribal efforts to place land in trust for casinos, fire...


Dave Palermo: Interior moves to fix a ‘broken’ federal recognition system
(Washington D.C.) -- A “discussion draft” of new rules intended to fix a broken system of federal recognition of American Indian tribes is the topic of a...


Dave Palermo: Will the Internet be the ‘new Cabazon?’
(USA) --   Neil Cornelius, GM for the Osage casinos in Oklahoma, was walking to a gambling seminar in Las Vegas recently when a trade industry reporter asked him...


Dave Palermo: Myriad problems with Carcieri decision
(Washington D.C.) -- The 2009 U.S. Supreme Court ruling limiting the Department of Interior’s ability to place land in trust for American Indians not “under...


Dave Palermo: Tribal recognition change is in the winds
(Washington D.C.) -- Draft regulations aimed at reforming the federal administrative process for recognizing American Indian tribes will be available for review by...


Dave Palermo: Fixing a broken system of tribal recognition
(Washington D.C.) -- Nor Rel Muk WintuIndians indigenous to the Klamath Mountains in Northern California have a lot in common with the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape people,...


Dave Palermo: Gambling and Tribal Recognition Policy
(Washington D.C.) -- Considering that gambling has pretty much hijacked every aspect of federal American Indian policy, it comes as no surprise it would have a major...


Dave Palermo: Tribes have cleaned up a “sin” industry
(Nevada) -- One of the last of more than 20 years of conversations I had with the late University of Nevada gambling scholar Bill Eadington had to do with the fact...


Dave Palermo: Tribes, IRS Making Progress on Tax Issues
(Washington D.C.) -- It was during a September hearing of the House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs that Rep. Don Young, D-Alaska, grew a bit impatient...


Dave Palermo: Self-governance guides BIA appointee Kevin Washburn
(Washington D.C.) -- Kevin Washburn is the son of Shirley Stark, an Oklahoma Chickasaw woman and tribal elder, a single parent and retired public health professional who...


Dave Palermo: A tribal perspective on problem gambling
(USA) -- Clinicians will tell you that problem and pathological gamblers are largely co-morbid, meaning they have compulsive behavioral problems beyond an inability to...


Dave Palermo: Gambling is the elephant in the Carcieri debate
(Washington D.C.) -- The devastating impact recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions have had on the ability of the federal government to place land in trust for American...


Dave Palermo: Reid/Kyl might be ‘pretty good for tribes.’
(Washington D.C.) -- A summary of Internet poker legislation proposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and John Kyl (R-Ariz.) leaked to the press last week...


Dave Palermo: Legal sports wagering in California an interesting proposition
(California) -- Should Congress or the U.S. Supreme Court reverse federal law prohibiting sports wagering, there appears to be a difference in opinion as to who might...


Dave Palermo: Much interest, little consensus on Internet at Shakopee meeting
(Minnesota) -- The fact more than 200 tribal leaders, lawyers, lobbyists and vendors gathered Aug. 22 at Mystic Lakes, Minn., to discuss Internet gambling speaks volumes...


Dave Palermo: No leadership from tribal federal regulatory on Internet gambling
(Washington D.C.) -- A failure by the top federal regulator for American Indian casinos to take a leadership role on Internet wagering annoys tribal leaders who fear...


Dave Palermo: AKAKA FIX: Mixing the Internet with a Carcieri fix can be tricky
(Washington D.C.) -- Widespread speculation among Capitol Hill insiders is that Sen. Daniel Akaka, (D-Hawaii), is hoping to use draft Internet legislation as leverage to...


Dave Palermo: Myth of the rich Indian is just that: a myth
(Washington D.C.) -- News from federal regulators that American Indian casino revenues rose 3 percent in 2011 pointed out once again that despite the “myth of the...


Dave Palermo: Patchak is the latest in a troublesome trend
(Washington D.C.) -- The June U.S. Supreme Court ruling involving Michigan landowner David Patchak and the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Potawatomi, owners of the Gun...

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