Indian tribes get tax break – – other taxpayers on the hook

February 24th, 2009 by Ken

UPDATE – HB 1526 had a hearing Tuesday before the House Finance Committee.  Supporters argued for the bill citing there would be an increase in revenue to the counties when indian purchased land was developed.  The counties and their representatives argued that property tax burden would still be shifted to other taxing entities such as schools, ports and cities.

(Personal Opinion – Counties may get increased revenue from leasehold improvements, but there would be NO decrease in property taxes and the same property  tax burden would be spread to private property owners which will have to pick up the land taken off the tax rolls.  If you have concerns about an increase in your property taxes, contact your state representative.)


Indian tribes in Washington state may get a major tax break, as a bill making its way through the state legislature takes all indian property off the tax rolls.

I know, you thought they were already off the property tax rolls, and you’d be right, except this bill takes all land the tribes purchase in the future, off the property tax rolls.

When the bill was in the House State Government and Tribal Affairs committee, Thurston County Assessor Patricia Costello testified that HB 1526, would shift property taxes for indian owned land onto the backs of Thurston County taxpayers.

Costello said that taking land, recently purchased by the tribes, off the tax rolls, would mean that other taxpayers in the county would have to assume the costs.  She estimated that would be $227,000 in the first year alone.

Supporters of the measure argue that the tribes would be taxed on any improvments they made to the land, but that argument didn’t fly, with State Representative Gary Alexander, who voted against the bill in committee.  “A leasehold excise tax is used by local governments,” Alexander said,  “We used it when I was at the Port of Olympia.   The tribes say they’re just like other local governments.” 

Alexander said the leasehold improvements don’t kick in until the land is developed and in the meantime the property is off the tax rolls.

Costello said the bill allows tribes to buy any property, anywhere and take it off the tax rolls.   She said the Chehalis tribe has plans to develop 2300 acres at Grand Mound.  “That means that $1.3 million in property tax revenue we won’t get,” she said.  

“I can’t understand why the Department of Revenue is pushing this tax exemption for the tribes,” she added.

The bill recently had a hearing in the House Finance Committee.

Posted in Business, Government, Informational, The Real News

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