Yesterday, the United States Senate passed H.R. 3043, the Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act, by unanimous consent. The bill passed the House of Representatives on September 16th by unanimous voice vote under suspension of the rules. The bill now goes to the President to be signed into law.
H.R. 3043 takes the first steps in align federal tax law with federal Indian law and policy. The bill enacts long needed reforms of the Internal Revenue Service and its work in Indian Country. It requires theTreasury Secretary to establish a Tribal Advisory Committee (TAC) that will generally advise the Secretary on tax matters that implicate Indian Country. This marks the first time in history that Indian Country will have a direct voice to the Secretary of the Treasury. The TAC will also be charged with developing a mandatory training program to educate IRS field agents in federal Indian law and the federal treaty and trust obligations and in protocol in dealings with Tribal Governments. IRS examinations on Indian Tribal Programs will be suspended until the IRS is adequately trained. The bill also generally fosters the policy supporting Indian Self-Determination and respect for tribal culture.
H.R. 3043 will co-exist with and build upon the positive reforms issued by the Administration through Revenue Procedure 2014-35, Application of the General Welfare Exclusion to Indian Tribal Government Programs That Provide Benefits to Tribal Members.
National Indian Gaming Association Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr. made the following statement on the bill's passage: "The tireless efforts of NIGA's Member Tribes deserve great credit for this historic change. Together, we literally knocked on hundreds of doors and wore a long path through the hallways of Congress to get this done. This bill is a victory for Tribal Sovereignty and Indian Self-Determination. I want to especially thank Congressman Devin Nunes for leading the way, as well as the 61 House co-sponsors of H.R. 3043. Our thanks also go out to Senator Jerry Moran and Senator Heidi Heitkamp and the 25 co-sponsors of the Senate companion bill. We are honored and humbled by their work to enact these momentous changes that will strengthen Tribal Sovereignty and positively impact the lives of Native Americans for decades to come."
The National Indian Gaming Association is a nonprofit trade association comprised of 184 American Indian Nations and other nonvoting associate member. The mission of NIGA is to advance the lives of Indian people - economically, socially and politically. NIGA operates as a clearinghouse and educational legislative and public policy resources for tribes, policymakers and the public on Indian gaming issues and tribal community development. For more information, visit www.indiangaming.org.