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:
Gathering scheduled in June at site of former BIA insane asylum (4/29)
Native Sun News: Tribal college student overcomes challenges (4/29)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Ancestors are gone but language lives on (4/29)
Mike Rounds: Eliminate 'hateful' and 'paternalistic' federal laws (4/29)
Harlan McKosato: White privilege fuels Donald Trump's fanbase (4/29)
Indian Health Service faulted for lengthy waits for patient care (4/29)
Mescalero Apache woman to compete for Miss United States (4/29)
Environmental Protection Agency pays little to tribes for spill (4/29)
Measure to declare bison as official mammal ready for Obama (4/29)
John Wayne's negative views about tribes resurface in debate (4/29)
Chumash Tribe picks Kenneth Kahn as first new leader in years (4/29)
Mille Lacs Band announces upgrades as casino marks 25 years (4/29)
Timbisha Shoshone Tribe sees warmer reception to casino bid (4/29)
Florida racks up legal bills in gaming fight with Seminole Tribe (4/29)
Rosebud Sioux Tribe sues Indian Health Service over shutdown (4/28)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee approves eight bills at meeting (4/28)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux Tribe to debut justice center (4/28)
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne official fired from tribal job (4/28)
Native Sun News: Comments sought on Black Hills mine cleanup (4/28)
Editorial: Native Sun News endorses Hillary Clinton for president (4/28)
Cronkite News: EPA slammed for response to Gold King Mine spill (4/28)
Steve Russell: Donald Trump advisor accuses tribes of terror plot (4/28)
Alex Jacobs: Hillary Clinton must answer to role in Honduras coup (4/28)
Northwest tribes inch closer to reburial of Kennewick Man remains (4/28)
Santee Sioux Tribe hosts task force to address substance abuse (4/28)
Huge crowds flock to New Mexico for annual Gathering of Nations (4/28)
Muckleshoot Tribe to host $50K 'Gold Cup' for Indian relay racing (4/28)
Member of Puyallup Tribe develops 'Teepee' tribal directory app (4/28)
Man in long fight with Shingle Springs Band faces longer sentence (4/28)
Tunica-Biloxi Tribe enters gaming agreement with Mohegan Tribe (4/28)
Timbisha Shoshone Tribe sees casino as a path to self-sufficiency (4/28)
Forest County Potawatomi Tribe announces another hire at casino (4/28)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe welcomes rejection of rival casino bid (4/28)
Senate passes measure to include Indian Country in tourism plans (4/27)
Amanda Blackhorse to deliver commencement speech at Haskell (4/27)
Native Sun News: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe aims to stop pipeline (4/27)
Lakota Country Times: Pine Ridge artist gains national recognition (4/27)
Brandon Ecoffey: 'Bull Dawg' represents the Oglala Lakota Nation (4/27)
Mark Trahant: Tribes endorse Native candidates for US Congress (4/27)
John Thune: Tribal citizens suffer with Indian Health Service care (4/27)
Cronkite News: Tribes support more protections at Grand Canyon (4/27)
Gabe Galanda: A moral responsibility to stop tribal disenrollment (4/27)
Vernice Moncooyea Willis: Bernie Sanders deserves our support (4/27)
Jennifer Denetdale: University must stop celebrating genocide (4/27)
Eastern Cherokee group hails Tribal Marijuana Sovereignty Act (4/27)
Leader of Fort Peck Tribes blames baby's death on drug abuse (4/27)
Chippewa Cree Tribe and FBI investigate theft of drugs at clinic (4/27)
Former comptroller of Crow Tribe accused of embezzling $28K (4/27)
Congress set to pass bill to declare bison as national mammal (4/27)
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton moving closer to nominations (4/27)
Fond du Lac Band won't confirm plan for site adjacent to casino (4/27)
Graton Rancheria on track to complete $175M casino expansion (4/27)
Pokagon Band to debut casino expansion project by end of year (4/27)
Connecticut tribes delay decision on potential casino until 2017 (4/27)
Oregon Lottery official fired as Lewis and Clark ads come down (4/27)
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.