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
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
U.S. Supreme Court won't touch Indian tax ruling
Tuesday, May 25, 2004

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to free the state of South Dakota from refunding gasoline taxes illegally paid by tribal members.

Without comment, the court rejected the state's appeal of a case involving a convenience store owner on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Loren "Bat" Pourier sought a refund of $940,000 in taxes he paid since 1995.

The state refused, citing a federal law that several states have used to justify illegal taxes on Indian commerce. But the South Dakota Supreme Court said the Hayden-Cartwright Act of 1936 does not authorize the 22-cent per gallon tax on gasoline.

"A state has no power to tax tribes, Indian reservation lands, or tribal members residing on Indian reservations unless there has been a cession of jurisdiction or other federal statute permitting the tax," Justice Richard W. Sabers wrote in February 2003..

The battle, however, didn't end there. First, the court said tribal members, and not Pourier, were owed the bulk of the refund even though he never passed the tax onto tribal consumers.

Second, the court said tribal members were owed a refund regardless of when they purchased fuel. The state balked at this holding because it had been imposing the tax since the 1920s. State officials claimed they would be forced to pay out millions.

So both Pourier and the state asked for a reconsideration of these key issues. After a rehearing last May, the high court reiterated in January that the state must refund money to tribal members and not to Pourier.

But the court agreed with the state and imposed a time limit on refunds. In a 4-1 decision, the majority said Indian consumers must seek a refund within 15 months of a fuel purchase. Applications [PDF] can be made through the state's Department of Revenue.

The court, however, did allow refunds for the entire 1995-2004 period at issue in the case. "[A]ny person who was enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and who paid the invalidly collected motor fuel tax may timely seek a refund for the taxes paid as part of their purchases made during the same period," wrote Justice John K. Konenkamp.

South Dakota attorney general Larry Long appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. He was supported by the attorney general from Idaho, another state which illegally pushed its gasoline tax on Indian consumers.

Both states raised the Hayden-Cartwright Act in their appeal. The law includes language authorizing state taxes on "military and other reservations."

But several courts, including at least two federal courts, have ruled the law does not authorize taxes on Indian reservations.

In a case involving Idaho tribes, the Idaho Supreme Court struck down the state's 25-cent gasoline tax, prompting Republican lawmakers to "legalize" it retroactively. A federal court later blocked the state from collecting.

Like South Dakota, Idaho appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court but was rejected.

In yet another case, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the state of Kansas from imposing a $1.25 million gasoline tax on Ho-Chunk Inc., the economic development arm of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska. The company deals exclusively with three Kansas tribes and argues that the state cannot interfere with inter-tribal commerce.

Ho-Chunk Inc. owns Indianz.Com and AllNative.Com.

South Dakota Supreme Court Decisions:
Pourier v. South Dakota (January 8, 2004) | Pourier v. South Dakota (February 2003)

Related Stories:
N.D. judge rules gas tax on Indians illegal (01/28)
S.D. Supreme Court limits refunds for illegal gas tax (01/09)
Oglala Sioux Tribe signs tax agreement with state (12/09)
Winnebago Tribe wins gasoline tax case (8/29)
Judge blocks state from interfering with tribe (08/08)
Giago: State should refund tax money first (08/06)
Editorial: Tribes should share tax with state (8/5)
S.D. tribes urged by state to charge gas tax (7/29)
S.D. asks court to limit tax refunds to Indians (05/30)
S.D. court takes on tribal gas tax case again (05/05)
S.D. Supreme Court to rehear tribal gas tax case (04/04)
S.D. trying to determine tribal tax refunds (4/1)
S.D. tax ruling leaves both sides wanting more (3/31)
S.D. bill limits gas tax refunds for tribal members (03/25)
S.D. high court sides with Indian business owner (02/28)
State argues right to impose gas tax (11/20)
State wants tribe to pay gas tax (10/15)
Idaho tribes score victory with tax ruling (8/20)
Janklow sues over tribal jurisdiction (10/10)

Copyright 2000-2004 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:
Interior Department consults tribes about new trust reform law (7/22)
Training sessions planned for final Indian Child Welfare Act rule (7/22)
Yurok Tribe shares sad news about salmon festival -- no salmon (7/22)
Mark Charles: An entire nation's big problem with Donald Trump (7/22)
Mark Trahant: Donald Trump promises a world with no treaties (7/22)
Native Sun News: Appeal delays release of Keepseagle checks (7/22)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux Tribe hosts walk for cancer (7/22)
James Giago Davies: Police officers get away with 'kill option' (7/22)
Andre Cramblit: Police officer shootings seem far too common (7/22)
Donald Trump closes convention that left out Indian Country (7/22)
New law in Oklahoma goes against Indian Arts and Crafts Act (7/22)
NMAI seeks input from tribes about veterans memorial in DC (7/22)
Blackfeet Nation swears in leaders and looks to a new future (7/22)
Coeur d'Alene Tribe kicks off popular powwow after absence (7/22)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe declares emergency over opioids (7/22)
Review: Hard look at drugs in Indian Country in 'Seventh Fire' (7/22)
State takes blame for sharing Tohono O'odham Nation minutes (7/22)
Pokagon Band debuts expansion of gaming facility in Michigan (7/22)
Karuk Tribe ready for groundbreaking on long-awaited casino (7/22)
California remains a battleground for Indian Child Welfare Act (7/21)
Yurok Tribe launches operation to rid reservation of marijuana (7/21)
Laguna Pueblo loses case linked to military contract kickbacks (7/21)
Cherokee player Koda Glover wins praise in major league debut (7/21)
Education Department hosts Native youth for roundtable in DC (7/21)
Navajo Nation lawmakers approve bill for travel plaza at casino (7/21)
Mark Trahant: Trump's Republican convention is one big failure (7/21)
Native Sun News: Five Rosebud tribal members killed in crash (7/21)
Lakota Country Times: Fire deals setback to Rosebud program (7/21)
Brandon Ecoffey: Carrying the voices of our people to masses (7/21)
Delphine Red Shirt: Our children need to be kept close to home (7/21)
Peter d'Errico: Celebrating the dark side of White 'civilization' (7/21)
Oglala Sioux Tribe confirms shooting death of 13-year-old girl (7/21)
Tribes in Connecticut sponsor cruise for Republican delegates (7/21)
Tribal lobbyist not buying Donald Trump's message of change (7/21)
Mechoopda Tribe aims to work with county on delayed casino (7/21)
Seminole Tribe helps with probe into robbery of casino patron (7/21)
John Schneider: New Little Traverse casino is underwhelming (7/21)
National Indian Gaming Commission reports growth in industry (7/20)
Interior Department sends more money for Cobell scholarships (7/20)
Former chairman of Winnebago Tribe indicted on theft charges (7/20)
Bill John Baker: An endorsement for Hillary Clinton as president (7/20)
Lakota Country Times: Skate competition moves to Pine Ridge (7/20)
Vi Waln: Lateral oppression is far too real for our tribal citizens (7/20)
Clara Caufield: Indian people too often vote with our stomachs (7/20)
Native Sun News Editorial: Improve our relationship with police (7/20)
Steven Newcomb: Focusing on the independence of our nations (7/20)
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.