Monday, February 29, 2016

Arizona Native American Caucus discusses taxation

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – The Native American Caucus met yesterday for a presentation on the collection and distribution of transaction privilege tax, which is more commonly called sales tax, on Arizona’s Native American lands.

“I appreciate that so many people, including non-Native American legislators, attended our TPT presentation. Amending TPT collection and distribution has been a priority for the Native American caucus for years,” Rep. Sally Ann Gonzales, D-Tucson (District 3), said.

At the meeting, Elain Smith, representing the Arizona Department of Revenue’s Office of Economic Research and Analysis, gave the caucus an overview of Arizona’s TPT system. In fiscal year 2015, the state collected more than $46.3 million in TPT revenue from Arizona’s Native American nations. However, Native American nations received only about $2.6 million in the form of state funding for the Diné College and the Navajo Technical College.

“It is important to discuss this issue at the legislature because our current TPT collection and distribution system is racially biased and its inequity harms our Native American communities. Significant revenue is generated for the state on Indian land, but our reservations are left out of the distribution of that money,” Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), said.

Rep. Gonzales agreed that the return to Native American nations is too low.

“Currently, Diné College and Navajo Technical College are the only Native American entities that receive TPT revenue. And the money they do receive is less than six percent of the TPT revenue collected on reservations. This system is totally unfair to Arizona’s Native American communities,” Rep. Gonzales said.

Rep. Jennifer D. Benally, D-Tuba City (District 7), reiterated the importance of the Native American Caucus meetings and said she hopes legislators and the public continue to attend.

“Arizonans need to know how much money is collected by the state from all of Arizona’s 22 Native American nations, and that the money going back to Indian nations does not reflect their contributions. This is not an issue just for members of the Native American Caucus, but for all state legislators and all Arizonans,” Rep. Benally said.