WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, today held an oversight hearing on “Building Tribal Economies: Modernizing Tax Policies that Work for Indian Country.” The hearing was an opportunity to hear from tribal leaders and organizations on efforts to empower tribal economies through tax reform.
“Overly burdensome tax policies, layers of regulations and a fundamental misunderstanding of how the Unites States interacts with tribes on a government-to-government basis continue to stymie tribal economic development,” said Hoeven. “As our country prepares to undertake the most comprehensive tax reform effort since President Reagan was in office, this committee must work to ensure that tribes are included in that effort.”
During the hearing, Hoeven emphasized how the Tribal Economic Assistance Act, bipartisan legislation he recently authored and introduced, would provide the tax relief necessary to boost job creation and economic development in Indian Country by:
Repealing the essential government function requirement for issuing tax-exempt bonds for community development projects;
Making permanent valuable tax credits on reservations, such as the Indian employment tax credit and the accelerated depreciation tax credit;
Improving access to New Market Tax Credits for tribal enterprises and tribally based development projects; and
Incentivizing tribal school construction bonds through private-public-tribal partnerships.
Dante Desiderio, executive director of the Native American Financial Officers Association, testified in support of the proposed provisions, commenting, “Collectively, these capital incentives, financing activities and credits would all work together to solve some of the most difficult issues preventing consistent and sustained growth in Indian Country.”
Carl Marrs, executive director of the Old Harbor Native Corporation, voiced particularly strong support for expanding and increasing tribal access to New Market Tax Credits, saying, “Indians and Alaska Natives have no less of a need for economic development than others in low income areas… This [credit] will encourage the creation of economic development entities, which in turn will bring much needed private capital and higher paying jobs to our Indian lands.”
“The bills we discussed today are vital to leveling the playing field for tribes,” said Liana Onnen, chairperson of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation. “They will remove obstacles and improve opportunities to attract investment and create jobs. They will help us be stronger economic engines for not just our reservations, but also our regions.”
As chairman, Hoeven is working to remove barriers to economic growth, business development and job creation in Indian Country. He has also introduced the Indian Community Economic Enhancement Act, which amends and improves existing law to increase access to capital for Indian tribes and businesses, strengthen opportunities for Indian business promotion, and create mechanisms and tools to attract businesses to tribal communities.
For witness testimony and full video of today’s hearing click here.