Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Briefs. Discussion »
WASHINGTON Tribes and tribal organizations nationwide have called upon Congress to do something about the Internal Revenue Service, IRS, imposing taxes on tribal support given to its citizens. So, Legislation was introduced before Congress went on summer recess to codify and broaden the General Welfare Exclusion as it applies to Indian tribes through an amendment to the Internal Revenue Code.
This legislation was introduced because in recent the IRS has sought to impose federal income taxes on American Indians individually who receive support through tribal government programs and services, such as education scholarships, funds to attend and participate in cultural events, housing benefits, bereavement stipends, and many others.
The legislation was introduced by Representative Devin Nunes, R-California. The legislation is HR 3043, the "Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act of 2013".
The bill has the support of both members of congress of American Indian decent, Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma and Markwayne Mullin, R-Oklahoma; and a strong bipartisan group of 12 other original co-sponsors including Representatives: Lynn Jenkins, R-Kansas; Ron Kind, D-Wisconsin; Jim Gerlach, R-Pennsylvania; Dave Reichart, R-Washington; Charles Boustany, R-Louisiana; Gwen Moore, D-Wisconsin; Suzan DelBene, D-Washington; Tony Cardenas, D-California; Derek Kilmer, D-Washington; David Valadao, R-California; Betty McCollum, D-Minnesota; and Paul Gosar, R-Arizona.
HR 3043 would amend the Internal Revenue Code by codifying and broadening the "General Welfare Exclusion" as that doctrine applies to tribal governments. In doing so, it excludes most tribal government programs and services from federal income taxation.
Another component of the legislation will reform the IRS and its work in Indian country. It requires the Treasury Secretary to establish a Tribal Advisory Committee that will be charged with developing a mandatory education and training program for IRS field agents to learn about federal Indian law and the unique federal treaty and trust obligations. IRS examinations will be suspended until the IRS is adequately trained.
The bill also includes a number of provisions that provide deference to local tribal government decision-making authority and generally fosters the policy supporting Indian Self-Determination and respect for tribal culture.
Details of Bill
Tribal government benefits excluded from income. The bill provides that "Indian general welfare benefits" will be excluded from federal taxation. The term is defined as "any payment made or services provided" by a tribal government to tribal citizens (or any spouse or dependent). However:
This bill closely models nearly a dozen tribal government and tribal organization resolutions adopted within the past year. The bill would strengthen tribal sovereignty and tribal leadership decision-making authority.
To help build additional support for the Tribal General Welfare Act of 2013, we are being asked to consider writing and calling your local Representatives to urge them to sign on as a co-sponsor of HR 3043 and to work with their colleagues to ensure that this bill becomes law in the 113th Congress.
posted August 15, 2013 8:10 am edt