IRS Targeting Is Nothing New—For Indian Country


Lost in the IRS-Tea-Party scandal is the fact that federal tax collectors have been targeting certain groups—Indian tribal governments—for years.

As Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, wastes Congress’s time on what really looks like a manufactured scandal, Indian Country should focus its attention on the IRS’s special wing—the ITG—focused on “provid[ing] Indian tribal government customers top quality service by helping them understand and comply with applicable tax laws, and to protect the public interest by applying the tax law with integrity and fairness to all.”  Which is code for auditing them.

The irony hasn’t been lost on those paying attention.

If the IRS had a division focused on providing anti-tax group “customers top quality service by helping them understand and comply with applicable tax laws,” Representative Issa might have a real scandal on his hands.

For what it’s worth, it would be more rational for the IRS to have a division focused on anti-tax groups as opposed to tribes.  Anti-tax groups are—surprise—less likely to pay taxes.  But ironically it is tribes and tribal members—supposed “Indians not taxed” according to the Constitution—who have been targeted and forcibly taxed by Uncle Sam since long before Representative Issa’s crusade.

Anthony Broadman is a partner with Galanda Broadman PLLC.  Anthony’s practice focuses on company-critical litigation and representing tribal governments in public affairs, taxation, and economic development matters.  He provides businesses and tribal governments advice regarding taxation, risk management, and legislative strategy.  Anthony was named a Rising Star by Washington Law & Politics magazine for 2013 and is immediate past Chair of the WSBA Administrative Law Section and Editor of the Indian Law Newsletter, published by the WSBA Indian Law Section.