Oklahoma tax exemption available for qualified Indians
By Jami Custer Staff Writer TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Native Americans living in Oklahoma may not be aware of a state income tax exemption they may qualify for. The exemption can be confusing, but it could help Indians from paying taxes they may not owe or from claiming the exemption they may not qualify for.According to the Oklahoma Tax Commission, taxpayers must provide certain documents to qualify for the Native American income tax exemption:• A copy of their tribal citizenship card or certification by the tribe as to their tribal citizenship during the tax year.• A copy of the trust deed, or other legal document, which describes the real estate upon which they lived is an Indian allotment, in restricted status or held in trust by the United States during the tax year. If the taxpayer’s name does not appear on the deed, or other document, then proof of residence on such property is required.• A copy of the trust deed, or other legal document, which describes the real estate upon which the taxpayer was employed, performed work or received income and which was held by the U.S. in trust for a tribal citizen or an Indian tribe or which was allotted or restricted Indian land during the tax year. Also a copy of employment or payroll records which show he or she is employed on that Indian country or an explanation of work on Indian country. All information to support the refund claim must be enclosed with the state tax return. The exemption can be confusing and has claimed victims in the past. CN citizen Melissa Loco said she received the exemption for two years. But nearly a year after claiming the exemption and receiving her state refund, she was notified that she didn’t qualify for the exemption and had to repay it. Loco said the guidelines for the exemption were not clearly understandable. “Actually the guidelines were not explained clearly when applying for the taxes, but when we had our taxes done nothing was asked except for a few documents which I had,” she said. “After I called the (Oklahoma) tax commission to find out exactly why we were denied and audited, it made more sense after looking up information again to see what exactly they were requiring.” Loco said she didn’t qualify because she didn’t live or work on Indian Country. “They said we did not live on tribal allotted land and our place of employment (a CN health clinic) wasn’t considered tribal land, and we had to pay back both years, which was over $2,500 I think,” she said. For CN citizens wondering if they live and work on Indian Country, the tribe’s Real Estate Service can provide verification letters to the OTC as to restricted or trust land residency and work site qualification.
MORE INFORMATIONIf an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation lives on trust, allotted or restricted land and works on any of the following CN properties he or she may qualify for Oklahoma’s Native American income tax exemption:Cherokee Nation Tribal Complex Outpost, Motel, Gift Shop and Restaurant Human Resources buildings Tribal Council house, Warehouse, Roads building Food Distribution warehouse, Facilities Building Financial Resources, Building Trades building Marshals Office Tribal Courthouse, Supreme Court building and old Jail Mankiller Health Clinic (This excludes W.W. Hastings Indian Hospital, Claremore Indian Hospital and all other clinics.) Dahlonegah Shop buildings Bull Hollow Shop buildings (new and old sites) CN Immersion School classroom building Part of Child Care building next to Sequoyah High School grounds Facet building in Stilwell in the CN Industrial Park Food Distribution Center in Stillwell in the CN Industrial Park “Red Gym” near CN Industrial Park in Stilwell Day Care located by the “Red Gym” in Stilwell area CNI Headquarters on Highway 51 in Stilwell West Siloam Casino and Smoke Shop Fort Gibson Casino and Outpost Tahlequah Casino Catoosa Casino, Smoke Shop, and 19- and seven-story hotel towers Sallisaw Casino and adjacent office building Roland Casino and Smoke Shop Reach Staff Writer Jami Custer at (918) 453-5560 or firstname.lastname@example.org