Washington’s Tulalip Tribes reach settlement with state, county in tax lawsuit

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Tulalip Tribes have reached an agreement that could end a federal lawsuit and allow it to begin collecting a portion of the tax receipts generated by the shopping center that borders its reservation.   

The agreement between the Tulalip Tribes, the state of Washington and Snohomish County is an important step to resolve a five-year legal battle over who is entitled to collect sales tax at the Quil Ceda Village shopping mall in Tulalip, Wash. Under the agreement, the Tribes would receive a cut of the state’s sales tax collected.  

As part of the agreement, the Tribes will invest $35 million to build a 48-be civil commitment center in Snohomish County.      

Terms of the agreement are contained in a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the tribes, the county and the state. First, lawmakers need to grant Gov. Jay Inslee the authority to negotiate a tax-sharing compact with the Tulalips and other tribes in the state.  

Lawmakers in the state House and Senate held hearings last week to consider bills that would grant Inslee that authority.   

The Tulalip Tribes originally filed the suit to assert their sovereign rights and stop the state and country collecting sales tax at Quil Ceda Village. In 2018, after a federal judge ruled in favor of the state and county, the Tribes appealed the ruling.

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