The third session of our year-long Center for Indian Country Development (CICD) Policy Webinar Series was focused on increasing understanding of tribal taxation policy and its impact on economic opportunity in Indian Country.
Tribal sovereignty is the inherent power of tribal nations to govern themselves. According to the U.S. Supreme Court,
the power to tax is an essential attribute of Indian sovereignty because it is a necessary instrument of self-government and territorial management. This power enables a tribal government to raise revenues for its essential services … to control economic activities within its jurisdiction, and to defray the cost of providing governmental services by requiring contributions from persons or enterprises engaged in such activities within that jurisdiction. Merrion v. Jicarilla Apache Tribe, 455 U.S. 130 (1982).
Yet tribal governments face legal limitations and practical disincentives to use their tax authority as an economic tool. These constraints weaken tribal economies and hamper tribes’ ability to provide for the needs of their people.
How do we shift policy conversations about dual taxation beyond zero-sum fears and toward a recognition of tribal sovereignty and good governance? What tactical and long-term tax policy changes need to be made to achieve parity and beneficial economic partnerships? Listen to the conversation as we engaged with tribal leaders and other taxation experts to bring understanding to the topic of tribes’ sovereign authority to tax.