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Rep. Daines praises House action on tribal general welfare bill

Rep. Steve Daines (R-Montana) at the Crow Native Days Parade on the Crow Reservation in Montana. June 27, 2014. Photo from Flickr

Rep. Steve Daines (R-Montana) praised the House for passing H.R.3043, the Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act.

Daines is a co-sponsor of the bill. He said it will help tribes provide general welfare services to their people without fear of audits and enforcement actions from the Internal Revenue Service.

“The IRS shouldn’t be taxing wheelchair ramps or auditing programs that provide backpacks to kids, draining resources that could otherwise be spent helping tribal members,” Daines said in a press release. “The Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act is commonsense legislation that gives tribes certainty when providing important services to their members and affirms sovereignty and self-determination for tribal nations.”

The bill has widespread support in Indian Country. Tribes in Montana are among those who pushed for its passage.

“Indian tribes should not be taxed for providing health care, education, housing or legal aid to those in need,” Chippewa Cree Tribe Chairman Richard Morsette wrote in a letter to Daines.

The Obama administration finalized new guidance, Application of the General Welfare Exclusion to Indian Tribal Government Programs That Provide Benefits to Tribal Members, in June but the bill establishes a more permanent policy on the matter.

It provides temporary relief to tribes and their members who are being audited by requiring the Department of Treasury to develop new training for agents who work in Indian Country. A Tribal Advisory Committee will be set up to help oversee the training and to advise the Treasury Secretary on taxation issues

The Joint Committee on Taxation has given the bill a revenue score of zero dollars, meaning its impact on the federal budget will be minimal. Nearly every major tribal organization supports the measure.

The Senate version of the bill is S.1507 but it has yet to receive a hearing.

Debate on H.R.3043, the Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act:

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