by Leslee Kulba
Wild West blogger
[WARNING: The “top story” referenced in this post disappeared before I double-checked the hyperlink, so take it with a pinch of low-sodium sea salt substitute.]
The Eastern Band of Cherokee asked Representative Joe Sam Queen (D-Haywood) to introduce legislation exempting non-tribal business interests operating on the reservation from paying property taxes. The reasoning is, a 2013 federal court ruling determined counties are not supposed to collect taxes on any improvements to real estate on a res. If the bill is successful, Jackson County would lose $9000 a year on top of the $76,000 it is going to lose now that leaders have been made aware of the ruling.
In the meantime, the tribe has been accused of helping non-tribe members evade Jackson’s taxes. In addition to not singling them out, they have a way of essentially adopting the business owners into the tribe when they are discovered. Principal Chief Michell Hicks explained:
That is because which government is able to assess taxes on personal property located on the Qualla Boundary is not dependent upon the race or skin color of the person who owns the property. . . . It is the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians government that provides water, sewer, fire and emergency services on the Qualla Boundary. We are also the government responsible for building and maintaining the roads, bridges, and utility and transmission corridors.