Bill Addresses Taxation of Tribal Programs - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Bill Addresses Taxation of Tribal Programs

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U.S. Senators Heidi Heitkamp and Jerry Moran introduced legislation to end the U.S. Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) practice of taxing crucial programs and services that aim to support the health and safety of Native American families. For years, Indian tribes have been taxed for providing health care, education, housing, or legal aid to those in need. 

"This bill levels the playing field by recognizing the inherent sovereignty of tribal governments to provide programs and services to its citizens, without subjecting them to heightened scrutiny from the IRS," says Sen. Heitkamp. "Just as state and local governments are able to determine what programs best help their citizens – like scholarships, elder or child care, or housing assistance – we must recognize tribal governments also have those same rights. With this bill, we're supporting tribal self-determination and taking a step toward living up to our trust and treaty obligations to tribes."

The Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act would:

  • Mandate tribal government programs, services and benefits authorized or administered by tribes for tribal citizens, spouses and dependents are excluded from income as a "general welfare exclusion"
  • Clarify that items of cultural significance or cash honoraria provided by tribal governments shall not represent compensation for services and shall be excluded from taxable income
  • Direct the Secretary of Treasury to require education and training of IRS field agents on federal Indian law and the unique legal treaty and trust relationship between the government and tribes
  • Establish a Tribal Advisory Committee within the Treasury to advise the Secretary on matters of Indian tax policy
  • Temporarily suspend all audits and examinations of tribal governments and members until the education and training measures are complete
  • Authorize the Secretary to waive any penalties or interest imposed on Indian tribal governments or members
  • Direct the Secretary that any ambiguities in applying this Act shall be resolved in favor of tribal governments and deference shall be given to tribal governments for the programs administered and authorized by the tribe to benefit the general welfare

 

In July, companion legislation, H.R. 3043, was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA22).

 

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