Tribal Leaders Interested Parties Meeting
On September 18, 2013, we held an interested parties meeting (IPM) to discuss issues relating to how we determine whether a tribal member is “living on" or "living off" his or her own tribe's reservation for purposes of California personal income tax. This meeting was one of the most well attended IPMs we ever hosted.
The panel taking comments included our legal and audit staff, as well as, the governor’s tribal advisor, Judge Cynthia Gomez. They began by introducing the discussion paper written by our legal staff which proposes adopting a closest connection test to determine whether a tribal member is “living on” or “living off” the reservation. The panel also acknowledged that there is currently no court or legislative guidance on exactly how to make this determination.
Attendees included dozens of representatives and members of tribes. During the discussion, many of them pointed out that life on the reservation doesn’t typically lend itself to the types of documents we usually ask for during an audit. For example, many families may share the same dwelling and have no property tax or utilities bills that may be typically requested during an audit. Another example of mail delivery to location 30 miles off the reservation was not representative of the residences’ location but the fact that it was the only safe place to have mail delivered. Nearly all tribal members agreed that a letter from the tribal government should serve as sufficient evidence. Many of them also agreed that the tribal government knows undoubtedly who is “living on” and “living off” the reservation. Tribal members also acknowledged that many tribes no longer have enough land for those that want to live on the reservation.
We will accept comments through November 4, 2013, on this issue. Please forward any comments you may have to Maria.Brosterhous@ftb.ca.gov. After that date, we will examine all the comments and issue a report with our responses.