indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Native American Bank - Native people investing in Native communities
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Senator Max Baucus: Fighting for tax fairness in Indian Country

Filed Under: Opinion
More on: irs, max baucus, senate, taxation
     

As Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over taxes, health care, trade, and Social Security, I’m in a unique position to help introduce and pass legislation that directly affects families across the nation. As the senior Senator from the State of Montana, I represent eleven tribes on seven reservations and one state-recognized Indian tribe. Both hats give me the honor of working on solutions to help improve the lives of Indian families nationwide.

One of the most important honors I have is making sure the federal government upholds its obligations to our tribes. Some years ago, I began hearing disturbing stories of the Internal Revenue Service auditing tribes over funds they had given money to tribal members so they could attend powwows or funerals or pay for college tuition or books. In one instance, I heard the IRS was auditing a meals for elders program. The problem was that the IRS’ efforts were not being applied fairly, evenly or with any predictability for tribes. It boils down to something called the General Welfare Exclusion Doctrine and whether tribal members should be taxed on the funding they received from their tribe to attend funerals, pay for college or travel to pow wows.

To get to the bottom of the issue, I held a Senate Finance Committee hearing in May of 2012 and asked witnesses to testify about their experiences. The IRS reached out for written comments from tribes and held a consultation session at the White House Tribal Nations Conference in 2011 and a consultation session hosted by the National congress of American Indians in 2012.

One witness at the hearing held in May of 2012, a professor of Indian Law at the University of Oklahoma College of Law testified that tribal governments provide benefits to their members for health, education, cultural, and language education as part of their cultural existence. The professor also noted that tribes were being audited at a disproportionately high rate. He testified that “where services are provided to make up for deficiencies resulting from adverse conditions not of the tribes’ making or, indeed, to further federal policy objectives, taxing and auditing them appears to me inconsistent with the requirement of the federal trust responsibility.”

Following the hearing the IRS responded to our call and published Notice 2012-75 on December 5, 2012 outlining the parameters of the Doctrine. The IRS clarified the general welfare exclusion. For tribes it means benefits provided under tribal governmental programs will not be taxed as income. That means tribes will no longer be disproportionately targeted for auditing for providing assistance to tribal families for things like:
· Mortgage or rent assistance
· Housing rehab
· Assistance for utility bills
· Educational benefits such as transportation to and from school, tutors, supplies and tuition payments

Elders will now be able to participate in meals programs such as home-delivered meals, assistance with preparing meals, local transportation assistance and travel expenses for doctor appointments, and transportation to attend social and cultural events would qualify as well as improvements in their homes such as grab bars and ramps would qualify.

Other qualifying assistance programs include transportation fees from the reservations to medical facilities and grocery stores, transportation and lodging costs while families receive medical care away from home as well as food, clothing, shelter, and transportation when tribal members have to leave home due to exigent circumstances such as victims of abuse or when a home is destroyed by fire or natural disaster.

Finally, costs for travel expenses, food, and lodging to attend cultural events such as powwows, and ceremonies qualify as well as pay or reimburse funeral and burial expenses. Now, when tribal members receive monies for these and the foregoing items they can receive them knowing they will not have to pay taxes and the tribe will not have to issue 1099’s to satisfy an IRS requirement. What should have been the rule all along will now be the standard operating procedure.

As Chairman of the Finance Committee I would like families across Indian Country to know that they have a friend who is concerned about their welfare and general well-being. We have a long way to go but with your help in letting me know these problems exist we can move forward together and make a better life for all of us. Mitakuye Oyasin.

Max Baucus is Montana’s longest serving U.S. Senator and serves as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.


Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Muscogee Nation activist dangled from bridge to stop oil ship (7/31)
Native Sun News: Rapid City mayor denies claim of retaliation (7/31)
Ernestine Chasing Hawk: Rapid City mayor's year of retaliation (7/31)
Brandon Ecoffey: Rapid City continues with tradition of racism (7/31)
Clara Caufield: Northern Cheyenne Tribe leaves people in dark (7/31)
Lakota Country Times: Group seeks to boost Pine Ridge tourism (7/31)
Federal murder charges laid for shooting on Crow Reservation (7/31)
Alex White Plume asks court for permission to plant hemp crop (7/31)
Isleta Pueblo welcomes Secretary Sally Jewell for school event (7/31)
Tribes caught off-guard with mandate from Affordable Care Act (7/31)
Commerce Blog: Secretary Pritzker meets with tribes and youth (7/31)
Tribes in Pacific Northwest 'very worried' about future of salmon (7/31)
Alaska to recognize tribal domestic violence protection orders (7/31)
Moapa Band enters $4.3M settlement for power plant pollution (7/31)
Senate Ad-Hoc Committee on Indian Affairs holds first meeting (7/31)
Donald Trump not shy with invoking race when it comes to tribes (7/31)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe sees big future with Class II casino (7/31)
Catawba Nation still waiting for answer on casino land-into-trust (7/31)
Last defendant sentenced in theft case at Yakama Nation casino (7/31)
Senate committee examines costs of substance abuse on tribes (7/30)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee delays vote on land-into-trust (7/30)
BIA allows two more New Mexico gaming deals to go into effect (7/30)
Former workers at Choctaw Nation casino plead guilty to theft (7/30)
Inmate charged with murdering Mississippi Choctaw man in jail (7/30)
Native Sun News: Keystone XL Pipeline protest draws big crowd (7/30)
James Giago Davies: Don't judge anyone's depth of Lakotaness (7/30)
Tara Houska: DC rally puts focus on threats to sacred Oak Flat (7/30)
Sarah Sunshine Manning: Native mother left to die in a jail cell (7/30)
Julian Brave NoiseCat: Native issues you aren't hearing about (7/30)
Peter d'Errico: Seeking action after apology from Pope Francis (7/30)
Suspect in custody over deadly shooting on Crow Reservation (7/30)
Shooting highlights racial tensions on Wind River Reservation (7/30)
Pueblo man goes on trial for brutal murder of Navajo woman (7/30)
Another sentence in Chippewa Cree Tribe corruption scandal (7/30)
Oglala Sioux Tribe on track to complete $16.5M nursing home (7/30)
Quapaw Tribe hosts relatives for annual language conference (7/30)
Former police chief for Swinomish Tribe pleads guilty to theft (7/30)
Winnebago Tribe seeks more time to remove old bank building (7/30)
Opinion: Eastern Cherokee leaders kick reporter out of meeting (7/30)
Indian family in Washington still pursuing casino on trust land (7/30)
Red Lake Nation leader supports sales of liquor at two casinos (7/30)
Mohegan Tribe reports increase in profit from casino enterprise (7/30)
Sen. Barrasso introduces another version of land-into-trust fix (7/29)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe adopts banishment for drug dealers (7/29)
Native Sun News: Rapid City trial ends with no defense witnesses (7/29)
Lakota Country Times: Youth come to Pine Ridge for 'Exposures' (7/29)
Charles Trimble: Being mixed-race Indian and being proud of it (7/29)
Ivan Star: It's up to all of us to keep the Lakota language alive (7/29)
Congress fails to provide funds to help tribes comply with VAWA (7/29)
Suit alleges tribal leaders received kickbacks from lobbying firm (7/29)
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe claims DOJ support for marijuana (7/29)
Community on Crow Reservation on lockdown due to shooting (7/29)
Former Chippewa Cree Tribe chair sentenced in corruption case (7/29)
Hillary Clinton refuses to answer questions about Keystone XL (7/29)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.