Members of Miccosukee Tribe lose appeal in income tax dispute

Billy Cypress, the chairman of the Miccosukee Tribe of Florida. Photo from Florida FOLK SHOW / Facebook

Members of the Miccosukee Tribe of Florida who want to avoid paying federal income taxes lost another round in court on Wednesday.

The group claims that the government cannot collect taxes on funds distributed from the tribe's trust accounts. But the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals did not rule on the merits, instead determining that the case cannot go forward due to the sovereign immunity of the United States.

The 16 plaintiffs cited a provision in the Miccosukee Reserved Area Act that waives the government's immunity for certain claims that could be filed by the tribe. The language, however, does not extend to individual tribal members, the court concluded.

"By its plain language, the waiver of sovereign immunity in the MRAA extends only to actions brought by the Miccosukee Tribe itself, not individual tribe members,' the court wrote in a per curiam decision. The ruling itself is unpublished, meaning it can't be cited as precedent in other cases.

Turtle Talk has posted documents from the case, Cypress v. United States. The lead plaintiff is Billy Cypress, who was recently elected as chairman of the tribe.

11th Circuit Court of Appeals Decision:
Cypress v. United States (March 23, 2016)

More 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Decisions:
Miccosukee Tribe v. Cypress (December 22, 2015)
US v. Billie (June 1, 2015)

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