By Nancy Lee Thomas
Copyright © 2001 NLThomas
CHEROKEE, NORTH CAROLINA - On September 13 the Tribal Council of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) voted to lobby for a tax exemption for Cherokee citizens, for purchases made off the reservation. Citizens of the EBCI, are exempt from paying local and state taxes on the reservation. State and local taxes are required to be paid by citizens of the EBCI when purchases made off the reservation. Federal taxes are paid for purchases are made both on and off the reservation.
No state or local sales taxes are paid by visitors or by residents of the Cherokee Indian Reservation, for purchases made on the reservation, but a 7 percent tribal levy is tacted on to the purchase price. The tribal levy nets the tribe around $6 million annually.
While a majority of the tribal council support seeking the tax exemption, seeing it as a way for the tribal government to "look out for its citizens", not all agree. Principal Chief Leon Jones and David Nash, the attorney general for the EBCI, both recommended caution.
Chief Jones and Attorney General Nash said that lobbying for a tax exemption might hurt tribal relations with state officials on gaming. The principal source of revenue for the tribe is Harrah's Cherokee Casino, which is owned by the EBCI.
Nash said also that the state's already tight budget would make any tax exemption not likely, due to the loss of revenue it would mean to the state.
A state and local tax exemption, applied to off reservation purchases, could mean hundreds of dollars in savings to each of the 12,500 citizens of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
Related contact information and paths:
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians