WASHINGTON, D.C. – The top Republican on the House Ways and Means Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee Adrian Smith (R-NE) delivered the following opening statement at a Subcommittee Hearing on Examining the Impact of the Tax Code on Native American Tribes.
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Remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Thank you to our witnesses, who are appearing across two panels today.
“Like so many others in America, tribal citizens deserve fairness and economic opportunity, and yet there always remains more work to do.
“Poverty for tribal citizens on reservation and trust land remains higher than for the total population, and we in Congress must always look for ways to improve conditions for the better, with the thoughtful insights provided by you all today.
“After all, prosperity is a project driven not by government but by our local communities and ultimately consumers. And even in the face of the novel coronavirus, our economy remains strong for working Americans.
“Our renewed economy means more patrons for businesses operated by tribes in tribal lands. It means a stronger foundation for Native American-owned businesses. Workers from all walks of life saw more jobs, fairer taxes, and bigger paychecks after tax reform.
“But how have Native Americans fared? We are eager to hear from our witnesses how we can best use our tax code to provide more opportunities for all to succeed.
“Republicans’ goal is to continue improving the tax code to ensure it is as fair and consistent as possible, while continuing reduce the burden of compliance on all Americans.
“I also want to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for calling today’s hearing.
“I think this is an important opportunity to have a constructive bipartisan conversation about areas of the tax code which aren’t necessarily in the spotlight, but are of importance to many Americans.
“There are often complex interactions between tribal concerns and the tax code.
“These issues largely arise from a failure to ensure tribal governments are treated like state and local governments for appropriate purposes.
“We made some progress in this space in the last several Congresses. Passed unanimously by Congress, the Tribal Social Security Fairness Act of 2018 was long overdue legislation to ensure fairness for our tribal governments concerning Social Security.
“The bipartisan legislation, which was led by this Committee, allowed Tribal Councils to have the choice whether or not they can choose to participate in Social Security, just as our state and local governments are allowed to.
“The Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act of 2014 made sure that need based payments made by tribes to tribal members are not taxed, just like similar payments made by state and local government. And the 2014 Act also created a Treasury Tribal Advisory Committee to interact with the Treasury and the IRS and make sure they are educated about tribal customs and practices.
“These were important, commonsense efforts. But we know there is more we need to do in this space.
“I’m looking forward to a constructive conversation, and I yield back.”