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Suppah testifies against plan to tax per capita

Per Capita Act of 1983 violated

   By Duran Bobb
   Warm Springs Correspondent
   Warm Springs Tribal Council Vice Chairman Ron Suppah was among three tribal leaders who testified before Congress earlier this month, charging that a plan to tax per capita payments through accounts held in trust by the Department of the Interior would violate federal law.
   Tribal leaders say the Per Capita Act of 1983 declares that these types of funds are not to be considered income or resources, and cannot be taxed. By the end of the hearing, at least one IRS representative was convinced. However, tribes believe the department will continue with their plan.
   A letter received by the Warm Springs tribes from the Oregon Internal Revenue Service in April requested information on each tribal member who received per capita payments. The tribes refused and requested a hearing with IRS representatives. That request was denied because it was an active case.
   The Yakama Nation also received a similar letter.
   Tribal leaders met with representatives of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, and have asked the organization to request a hearing with the IRS on behalf of the Northwest tribes.
   At the hearing earlier this month, U.S. Rep. Ben Lujan demonstrated screen shots showing that, between November 2011 and April 2012, language had been removed on the tribal tax issue which protected tribal citizens from such taxation. Christy Jacobs, director of the Office of Indian Tribal Governments at the IRS, said she was not aware of the changes.
   Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), questioned where the idea came from and added that he was willing to issue a subpoena to find out the truth.
   The IRS appears to have backed off for now. "But we're still curious as to where all this came from and why it came about in the first place," said Luke Miller, a spokesman for Don Young.
   "A lot of times we view Tribal Council travel as unnecessary," Warm Springs tribal member Sandra Danzuka said. "But in this case, the trip was needed in order to protect our membership."
   Tribal per capita payments are generated on the Warm Springs Reservation through the various tribal enterprises such as Kah-Nee-Ta, Warm Spring Forest Products Industries, and Warm Springs Power Enterprise profits. They are issued monthly. Because these funds must be held in trust by the DOI, per capita checks are issued on U.S. Treasury checks.
   Saturday mill fire
   Just before 7 p.m. last Saturday, emergency personnel responded to the report of a fire at WSFPI.
   Within 15 minutes, the responding fire crew deemed the blaze to be self-contained, surrounded by parking lot on all sides.
   The fire burned at the scrap wood pile near the mill. On occasion, dry weather and high temperatures can start the pile burning. Because there is direct access to a water line nearby, the fire was monitored by fire crews, and eventually extinguished by mill personnel.
   At the same time, there was a report of a spot fire across the river in Mecca. However, police were unable to find any signs of a fire in that area while investigating.