Navajo Nation President Urges Lawmakers to Include Tribal Tax Reform in the Tax Bill

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye

Published November 30, 2017

WASHINGTON – As the tax bill heads to the Senate floor, Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye urges lawmakers on Capitol Hill to include tribal provisions to enhance economic development in Indian Country.

“The Navajo Nation is a sovereign nation with a severely challenged economy in the most prosperous country in the world,” said President Begaye.

Based on a 2012 survey conducted by the Navajo Nation Department of Economic Development, 80 percent of Navajo consumers purchase their groceries off the Navajo Nation. About 75 percent of Navajo consumers will drive more than 50 miles to procure items. This survey highlights the problem of the severe lack of businesses on the reservation. The lack of businesses, in turn, contributes to an unemployment rate of about 44 percent — a telling number for the Navajo Nation.

“We are asking that the bill put tribal governments on the same level as local governments and remove the essential government function test. Furthermore, any federal reform should permanently authorize accelerated depreciation of buildings and equipment and the Indian employment corporate tax credit. It should also provide for an overall higher allocation of new market tax credits for Indian Country and the Indian Coal Production Tax credit,” said President Begaye.

Ultimately, the Navajo Nation seeks to find common ground for tribal tax reform that will foster the Navajo Economy and encourage a self-sustaining Navajo population. One of the barriers to developing the Navajo economy is the lack of tax incentives to attract private investment within its communities.

“I urge lawmakers to include tribal tax provisions in the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017. Indian Country needs jobs and we should not be left out of federal tax reform,” said President Begaye.

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