December 21, 2017

Legislators come to Reservation to discuss tribal taxation issues

By Jerry W. Kram
Committees of the North Dakota Legislature rarely meet outside of the North Dakota State Capitol in Bismarck. But the growing tension between tribes and the state led the Interim Tribal Taxation Committee to hold a field hearing on the Fort Berthold Reservation.
MHA Nation Tribal Chairman Mark Fox welcomed North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford and the members of the committee, which includes the House and Senate leadership of both parties: Representatives Al Carlson, Craig Headland, Corey Mock; Senators Dwight Cook, Joan Heckaman, Rich Wardner; and ex-officio members; Indian Affairs Commissioner Scott J. Davis, and Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger.
Along with presentations by the Three Affiliated Tribes, representatives from the Spirit Lake Nation, Standing Rock Reservation and Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa also testified to the committee.
The meeting began with a review by the state Tax Department of taxation agreements between tribes and the states of Montana and Minnesota. Both states have agreements to distribute taxes collected on reservations back to the tribal governments. Minnesota has a single agreement with each tribe that includes tobacco, liquor, excise and sales taxes. Montana has negotiated separate agreements with each tribe for each individual tax. Another difference between the states is that Montana does not levy a sales tax.

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