U.S. Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota) praised the Senate’s bipartisan passage of a bill to exclude tribal benefits, such as healthcare, education, and housing, from any individual’s gross taxable income. The Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act (H.R. 3043) would amend the Internal Revenue Code to ensure the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) applies the same treatment to tribal government programs, services, and benefits that it presently applies to the states.
“Native Americans deserve fair treatment under federal tax law, and for years the IRS failed to deliver that fairness,” said Thune. “I am pleased this important legislation, which I am proud to cosponsor, will soon be signed into law, ensuring that tribal benefits receive the same tax treatment as similar benefits provided by the states. While there is more work to be done to address the concerns facing Indian Country, this legislation is a significant step forward in honoring our treaty commitments to work government to government.”
Thune is a cosponsor of the Senate companion to the Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act of 2013 (S. 1507), and as a member of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, has worked closely with members of the committee to garner support for the legislation and usher the bill through the Senate. The bill now heads to the president for his signature.
Currently, general welfare benefits administered by the state and federal government are excluded from an individual’s taxable income by the IRS, but tribal benefits have not received the same tax treatment. The Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act not only amends the tax code to treat tribal programs similar to state and federal programs, but it also directs the Secretary of the Treasury to require education and training of IRS field agents on federal Indian law.
Thune took to the Senate floor yesterday in support of the bill. Video of the senator’s speech is available here.