To: NIGA Member Tribes
From: Chairman Ernest L. Stevens, Jr.
Jason C. Giles, Executive Director
Re: Letters to Congress needed! H.R. 3043 Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act
Date: September 3, 2014
Congress returns to work on Monday, September 8th after the 5-week summer recess. This is a prime opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to H.R. 3043, the Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act. Thanks to your hard work, we are close to enactment of this bill that would implement long-needed reforms of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in Indian Country. However, with the 2014 election soon upon us, we are working with a compressed timeline. We ask that you send the attached draft letter to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, asking him to schedule a vote on the House floor on H.R. 3043.
BACKGROUND: TRIBAL GWE LEGISLATION
The IRS has sought to impose federal income taxes on a wide range of tribal government programs and services that individual Indians receive, such as education scholarships, funds to attend and participate in cultural events, housing assistance, bereavement stipends, and many others. Tribes and tribal organizations nationwide have called upon Congress to codify and broaden the General Welfare Exclusion (GWE) as it applies to Indian tribes through an amendment to the Internal Revenue Code.
Rep. Devin Nunes responded to tribal leader concerns by introducing H.R. 3043. The bill now has 54 co-sponsors, including 15 members of the House Ways & Means Committee. The bill would put a stop to intrusive Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audits of tribal governments seeking impose federal income taxes on a wide range of tribal government programs and services. Importantly, the bill would also reform the IRS and its work in Indian Country by requiring IRS field agents to be educated in federal Indian law and the government's unique treaty and trust obligations. Under the bill, IRS examinations will be suspended until the IRS is adequately trained. The bill also requires deference to local tribal government decision-making authority and respect for tribal culture. Finally, these bills would require the Treasury Secretary to establish a Tribal Advisory Committee (TAC) that will be charged with advising the Department on the application of federal tax laws in Indian Country as well as implementing the Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act.
Please consider writing House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, requesting he schedule a vote on H.R. 3043 before the October recess. A model letter follows. Please contact Danielle Her Many Horses at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or comments.
September 2, 2014
The Honorable Kevin McCarthy, Majority Leader
United States House of Representatives
H-107 The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515
Re: Reform the IRS in Indian Country -- Bring H.R. 3043 to the House Floor
Dear Leader McCarthy:
I write on behalf of the _______ [Tribe] to respectfully ask that the House bring H.R. 3043, the Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act, to the floor for a vote in September before recessing for the November elections.
Federal Indian affairs policy is grounded in the history and course of dealings between the U.S. and Indian tribes. Tribes ceded or had taken hundreds of millions of acres of our homelands to help build this Nation. In return, the U.S. made solemn promises to provide for the health, education, and general welfare of Indian people. Sadly, federal programs and services designed to meet these promises have been unfunded or under-funded for decades. As a result, tribal governments are stepping in to meet these shortfalls by directly providing programs and services to our tribal citizens. Instead of fostering these acts of Indian self-determination, the IRS has targeted Indian tribes for audits, seeking to impose federal income taxes on tribal government programs and services.
Tribal leaders nationwide raised concerns with these targeted IRS intrusions of Indian self-determination. Rep. Devin Nunes responded to tribal leader concerns by introducing H.R. 3043. The bill now has 54 co-sponsors, including 15 members of the House Ways & Means Committee. H.R. 3043 will implement long-needed reforms of the work of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in Indian Country and clarify that federally recognized tribal government programs and services provided to our citizens are not subject to federal income taxation. Passage of this bill will help align federal tax laws with federal Indian law and policy, strengthen Indian self-determination, and respect the local decisions of tribal governments to improve our communities. On September 17, 2013, the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) ruled that H.R. 3043 "would have a negligible effect on federal fiscal revenues."
For these reasons, I again urge you to schedule H.R. 3043 for floor consideration prior to the October recess. I know you to be a long-time supporter of Indian Country and thank you for that support. I appreciate your consideration of this important request.
Sincerely,___________ (Tribal Leader)