Law | National

Agua Caliente Band sues county to block tax on Indian lands





The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians is suing Riverside County, California, to stop collection of a tax on the reservation.

The tribe has long believed that the possessory interest tax is illegal. A Bureau of Indian Affairs regulation confirms that position, the lawsuit claims.

"Riverside County uses the money collected on the reservation to benefit people living in other cities and areas far away from where the taxes are collected," Chairman Jeff L. Grubbe said in a statement. "The tribe’s desire is to keep tax money within our community to service the Coachella Valley.”

Federal law, generally, bars taxation in Indian Country. The BIA rule, which was finalized in December 2012, says state and local governments cannot collect taxes on Indian lands, including those leased to non-Indian entities, a situation common at Agua Caliente.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court on Thursday. The tribe plans to collect its own tax and use the revenues for the community if the case succeeds, Grubbe said.

Get the Story:
Agua Caliente tribe sues Riverside County over tax (The Palm Springs Desert Sun 1/7)
Tax dispute prompts Agua Caliente lawsuit (The Riverside Press-Enterprise 1/7)
Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians seeks to stop Riverside County tax (KESQ 1/6)

Federal Register Notice:
Residential, Business, and Wind and Solar Resource Leases on Indian Land (December 5, 2012)