September 29, 2022

Cortez Masto Introduces Legislation to Support Economic Development in Tribal Communities

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, introduced the Native American Tax Parity and Relief Act of 2022 to help support economic development in Indian Country by removing unfair tax burdens on Tribal communities. This legislation would ensure that Tribal governments are treated similarly to state and local governments in the federal tax code and are consulted when federal tax legislation is drafted.

“Tribal governments share many of the same responsibilities and functions as state and local governments, but they don’t have access to the same tax incentives and economic development tools,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “My legislation will fix these fundamentally unfair aspects of the tax code, allowing Tribal governments to better use their tax authority as a tool to strengthen their economies and keep more money in Tribal communities.”

“Tribes should have access to the same tools as state and local governments to strengthen their economies and support education, health, housing, and other services for families," said Senator Wyden, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. “An update to the tax code is desperately needed to guarantee equity and fairness for Tribes in Oregon and across the country and allow them to continue to deliver essential services to members of their communities.”

“For too long, Tribal governments have been left behind when it comes to federal tax benefits, incentives, and protections,” said Senator Schatz, chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. “Our bill respects Tribal sovereignty, responds to recommendations from Indian Country, and makes sure Tribal governments have equitable access to federal resources to advance the health, safety, and economic wellbeing of their communities.”

This legislation is part of a comprehensive group of bills Cortez Masto has championed in the Senate to support Native Americans. She passed the bipartisan Not Invisible Act and Savanna’s Act to help address the epidemic of missing, murdered, and trafficked Indigenous women and has repeatedly advocated for additional federal funding to help Tribal communities and Tribal law enforcement combat violence and seek justice.

The Native American Tax Parity and Relief Act of 2022 is a comprehensive bill that creates parity between Tribal and state and local governments in the federal tax code. Specifically, this legislation does the following:

  • Updates rules for issuing tax-exempt debt to ensure Tribal governments are treated the same as state and local governments;
  • Strengthens Tribal governments’ ability to enforce child support by aligning the treatment of Tribal governments with that of states;
  • Extends and updates the Indian Employment Tax Credit to better serve Tribal families;
  • Increases the effectiveness of Tribal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits in Indian Country;
  • Expands the special-needs adoption tax credit so that it applies to adoptions ratified by a Tribal court;
  • Ensures that contributions to 501(c)(3) charities created by a Tribal government are taxed the same as contributions to charities created by state and local governments;
  • Creates an annual $175 million New Markets Tax Credit for low-income Tribal communities and for projects that serve or employ Tribe members;
  • Clarifies that Tribal General Welfare Benefits are not unfairly categorized as income related to Supplemental Social Income eligibility or benefit amounts. 

The bill text is available here.

Senator Cortez Masto is one of the strongest champions for Native American communities in the Senate. In 2020, she passed the bipartisan Not Invisible Act and Savanna’s Act to help address the epidemic of missing, murdered, and trafficked Indigenous women. She has repeatedly called on the administration to do more to address the epidemic of violence against Native women and girls, including securing funding to protect Native communities, urging the administration to draft a plan to address this issue, and requesting the Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigate the federal response to this crisis.