Support better business for Indian Country

Dear Editor,
                       
1. Amend IRA Section 17 To Allow Federal Incorporation For Tribal Members (Source: Gabriel "Gabe" Galanda, March 8, 2012)
                       
Tribal entrepreneurs frequently have only one avenue to charter a business – state incorporation – because many tribal governments still do not have business structures laws or incorporation regimes in place. The problem with state incorporation of a tribal member-owned business, though, is that it then leads to attempts to tax the business.
                       
State taxation of tribal member businesses hinders Indian economic development.  This is at odds with the several-decades-shift in federal law toward Indian economic self-sufficiency (state Supreme Court Pourier v. South Dakota Dept. of Revenue).  And it is critical to keep as many dollars as possible on the reservation to enhance economic efforst
                      
Section 17 of the Indian Reorganization Act (1934) provides that the Secretary of the Interior may, upon petition by any tribe, issue a charter of incorporation to such tribe . . . .”   The title of the IRA states that the statute was intended "to extend to Indians the right to form business and other organizations" (48 Stat. 984), and Section 19 defines an "Indian" as "all persons of Indian descent who are members of any recognized tribe now under Federal jurisdiction" (25 U.S.C. § 479). However, Interior takes the position that Section 17 itself mandates that charters only be issued to a "tribe" and not any tribal member.
                       
It remains Congress' primary objective relative to Indian Country to encourage tribal economic independence and development (at least on paper).  A narrow amendment to Section 17 that would allow Indian persons to federally charter businesses in fulfillment of the law's expressed intent should be proposed by the Obama Administration to Congress, rather than incorporate under state law and thereby risk destruction via state taxation.
                       
And, ultimately, a tribal business could still choose to incorporate with the state. A Section 17 amendment would simply expand choice.
 
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Contact the White House.
A sample letter is listed below:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
202-456-1111
www.whitehouse.gov/contact/
 
President Obama,
                       
Thank you for your campaign to protect the American middle class.  In light of that effort, I ask that you support legislation that would allow tribal member entrepreneurs to incorporate, while maintaining their guaranteed protections under federal Indian law to be free of state interference.
                       
Please amend Section 17 of the Indian Reorganization Act to allow Indian persons to federally charter businesses in fulfillment of the law's expressed intent, rather than incorporate under state law and thereby risk destruction via state taxation.
 
FOR MORE INFO

www.galandabroadman.com/2012/01/amend-ira-section-17-to-allow-federal-incorporation-for-tribal-members/
 
Gabriel S. Galanda
Seattle, Washington
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