The sovereign status of Tribes and the complex nature of jurisdictional issues regarding Indian Reservations, Tribal and member trust land, and Tribal land in general, require a sound working relationship between Tribes and the state. The Department acknowledges that implementation of the Centennial Accord is an on-going process and pledges to work on a day-to-day basis to foster our government-to-government relationship with individual Tribes. The Director has designated the Deputy Director to act as Tribal Liaison. The Liaison works closely with a team from across the agency to resolve issues with Tribes and taxpayers, to proactively develop educational and outreach material, and to provide internal training to Department staff on the importance of consulting with Tribes on reoccurring and emerging issues. The Department believes there is much to be gained by widely sharing information about Tribal sovereignty and the state’s relationships with Tribes, and is committed to providing increased outreach and education to the public and to policy makers.
Tribal Tax Workgroup – Assisted in the development of materials and presentations; participants included tribal officials, tribal staff, state legislators, and representatives of local government.
Staff Training – Provided internal trainings on Rule 192 (administrative rule implementing Indian related excise tax exemptions) to Department field office staff. Next step: Provide online training for new employees.
Treaty Fishery – Initiated educational effort with respect to taxation and the exercise of treaty fishery rights, including presentations and meetings with tribal officials and staff, presentation at NWIFC; provided letter rulings and consultations on fishery related tax issues, and processed numerous refunds. Next step: Develop additional web-based training.
Quinault Nation Forest Excise Tax Legislation – Worked closely with the Quinault Nation in the development of a successful legislative proposal for a tax agreement on forest excise tax, as well as provided information to legislators during the legislative session. Implementation of the legislation is underway.
Cigarette Compact Legislation – Department request legislation enacted adding the Spokane Tribe and the Hoh Tribe to the cigarette compact statutes.
Cigarette Compact Administration – Continued the practice of making in-person annual visits to compact tribes, assessing the status of the compacts, discussing audit and enforcement issues, and sharing tax administration information.
Cigarette Licensing Memorandum of Agreements – Developed memorandums of agreement to be used as regulatory equivalents in place of certain licenses, without requiring submission to state jurisdiction.
Property Tax Exemption Process – Staff engaged in outreach to Tribes regarding the availability of the property tax exemption for fee land, emphasizing those Tribes who appeared to be underutilizing the exemption. Next step: Provide an annual notice to Tribes on a regular basis.
Property Tax Court Case Implementation – Published a property tax advisory (PTA 14.0.2006) regarding the 9th Circuit decision in Quinault Indian Nation v. Grays Harbor County, 310 F.3rd 645 (2002). The 9th circuit ruled in favor of the Quinault Nation and the PTA discussed the application of the result to similar taxes. The property tax advisory provides certainty and reduces disputes.
Property Tax Legislation – Provided education and assistance for the Muckleshoot Tribe and Chehalis Tribe on a legislative proposal to provide parity for the taxation of government land.
Tribe and Tribal Member Tax Registration – Assisted and provided troubleshooting for situations where an account ID is required to do business, although the Indian person or Tribe is not subject to state regulation. For example, purchases for resale cannot be made without a resale certificate, which in turn requires a registration number. Taxpayer Account and Administration Division staff provide special assistance in creating these accounts when needed.
Economic Development Outreach – Department initiated contact with various Tribes to discuss tax treatment of complex projects, such as the Great Wolf Resort project of the Chehalis Tribe.
Local Government Issues – Worked with the Association of Washington Cities on a small project to facilitate resolution of an ongoing tax dispute between a city and tribal members.
Next step: Contact similar cities.
Forms – Based on input from tribal members revised the motor vehicle sales tax exemption form. Next step: Review remainder of the forms and materials for “plain talk” standards as well as to assure the forms reflect current law.