U.S. court: Fuel tax on Native Americans invalid

| 9/3/2004

The U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, has ruled that an Idaho fuel tax imposed on fuel delivered to Native American-owned fuel stops located on a tribe’s reservation was invalid.

The decision in Coeur d’Alene Tribe of Idaho vs. Hammond was filed Aug. 19.

According to a report in the State Laws Newsletter by Robert Pitcher, the Idaho Supreme Court previously ruled that the tax was bad, but the Legislature had changed the tax statute in response to specify that the incident of the tax now rested on the suppliers rather than the Native American retailers.

The Court of Appeals found that legislative intent did not govern the matter of incidence, which was not changed merely by saying so, Pitcher reported. The fuel suppliers continued to collect the tax from the tribe, which continued to bear the burden of it.