An orca at Quil Ceda Village, a community on the Tulalip Reservation in Washington. Photo: Cloganese

Tulalip Tribes head to trial in closely-watched dual taxation case

The Tulalip Tribes are headed to trial in a closely-watched dual taxation case in Washington.

The tribe sued the state and Snohomish County in 2015 over an estimated $40 million in taxes that are imposed every year on businesses on the reservation. The lawsuit alleges that little of the money makes it back to the reservation, hindering the ability for the tribe to improve infrastructure and services.

The state and the county “siphon off tax revenues from an economy that they have done nothing to create or sustain,” a tribal official said in a court declaration, The Everett Herald reported.

The case goes to trial in federal court in Seattle on May 14, paper reported. The proceeding is expected to last 10 days, the paper said.

Indian Country is paying attention because tribes elsewhere face similar situations. In North Dakota, for example, the state has imposed more than $1 billion in taxes on energy production on the homelands of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation.

Beyond litigation, tribes had hoped to outlaw dual taxation with an update to the so-called Indian Trader Regulations. The effort began late in the Obama era.

But many tribes and advocates believe the Trump administration has basically killed the initiative. Ever since Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt, the second-in-command at the Department of the Interior, arrived in Washington, D.C., last August, there's been no movement to finalize the rule.

Turtle Talk has posted some documents from the Tulalip Tribes case, Tulalip Tribes v. State of Washington . During the Obama administration, the Department of Justice sided with the tribe.

Read More on the Story:
Millions at stake in Tulalip lawsuit over sales tax revenue (The Everett Herald March 12, 2018)

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