July 26, 2017

Bar owners meet to talk tribal taxes

By Jerry W. Kram
MHA Nation Tribal Chairman Mark Fox was adamant. He does not want to put bar owners on the Fort Berthold Reservation out of business.
However, he pointed out that the sale of alcohol comes with costs, and those costs have to be paid somehow. He also pointed out that while the State of North Dakota has collected millions of dollars from taxes on sales on the Fort Berthold Reservation, the tribe doesn’t get any of that money back to fund programs such as alcohol and drug treatment, law enforcement and domestic violence prevention.
Drawing a triangle on a whiteboard, Fox explained, “There is a connection between a regulated activity like selling alcohol, the tax collected on that activity, and the programs funded to cope with the impacts of that activity. This side is broken. The tax is being collected but isn’t coming back to fund the necessary programs.”
Fox explained that even before he became tribal chairman, when he was the MHA Nation tax director, he has been involved in negotiations with the state for a number of tax sharing agreements since 2011. When John Hoeven was governor, he said, the tribe negotiated the first oil tax agreement, and later renegotiated the tax with Governor Jack Dalrymple. The tribe also has an agreement with the state to share fuel taxes collected from gas stations on the reservation.

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