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Bill requiring IRS to treat tribes equally heads to president’s desk

WASHINGTON - A bill that would ensure the Internal Revenue Service treats American Indian tribes the same as state and local governments when it comes to providing certain welfare services has passed the Senate and will now go to President Barack...

WASHINGTON – A bill that would ensure the Internal Revenue Service treats American Indian tribes the same as state and local governments when it comes to providing certain welfare services has passed the Senate and will now go to President Barack Obama for his signature, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp said Friday.

Heitkamp, D-N.D., who co-sponsored the bill with Republican Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas, said it “levels the playing field” by stopping the IRS from taxing programs that support health care, education and housing assistance for Indian families.

The Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act fully recognizes Indian tribes as sovereign nations responsible for making sure their government programs and services best fit the needs of their citizens, just as other local governments do, Heitkamp said in a news release.

“I’ve heard stories of the IRS questioning a tribal government’s ability to provide school supplies to elementary school children, or levying a tax on a ramp erected for a tribal elder to access her home,” she said. “This law shows that we respect tribal sovereignty by making sure tribal citizens get the rights they deserve.”

The House of Representatives passed the bill earlier this week.

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