Taxing Times in Native America

In "Taxing Times in Native America," which is featured in the January 2011 edition of Bar News, we offer a primer on Indian tax law, especially in Washington State.

The rumors of tax-free Native America have been greatly exaggerated. Ironically, for an ostensibly tax-free zone, Indian tribes and lands are rife with nuanced tax issues that both tribal clients and non-Indian entities interacting with them must confront.

The commonly held but mistaken belief that individual tribal members are exempt from federal income tax tells only the beginning of the story. Both tribal governments and non-tribal parties doing business in Indian Country must carefully navigate the pitfalls of Indian tax law, which can often hinge on subtle factor-based tests and sprawling inquiries into the character of a putative taxable event and its players. If they and their counsel are successful, significant federal, state, and local tax savings can flow from Indian reservation-based transactions.

The article was reposted by

Gabriel "Gabe" Galanda is a partner at Galanda Broadman PLLC, of Seattle, an American Indian majority-owned law firm.  He is an enrolled member of the Round Valley Indian Tribes of Covelo, California.  He can be reached at 206.691.3631 or, or via