New Scholarship on Tribal-State Tax Agreements

Pippa Browde has published “Sacrificing Sovereignty: How Tribal-State Tax Compacts Impact Economic Development in Indian Country” in the Hastings Law Journal (PDF).


Economic development is a critical component of tribal sovereignty. When a state asserts taxing authority within Indian Country, there is potential for overlapping, or juridical, taxation over the same transaction. Actual or even potential juridical taxation threatens economic development opportunities for tribes. For many years, tribes and states have entered into intergovernmental agreements called tax compacts to reduce or eliminate juridical taxation. Existing literature has done little more than mention tax compacts with cursory cost-benefit analyses of the agreements. This is the first Article to critically examine the role tax compacts serve in promoting tribes’ economic development.

This Article analyzes economic development activities in Indian Country as two types of transactions: when the tribe or tribal enterprise is engaging as a retailer, and when a tribe or tribal enterprise is working with non-tribal entities in joint ventures. Using these categories of transactions as a framework, and looking to existing compacts between various tribes and states as examples, the analysis focuses on the impact compacts have on economic development in Indian Country. This Article argues that compacts do not live up to the promise of resolving juridical taxation in a manner that fosters economic development opportunities for tribes.

Washington SCT Briefs in Challenge to Tribal-State Tax Agreements

Here are the briefs in Automotive United Trades Organization v. State of Washington:

AUTO Brief

State Brief

AUTO Reply

Washington Policy Amicus

State Response to Policy Amicus

Tribal Amicus Brief

This case reached the Washington Supreme Court previously on a procedural issue, here.

Tonasket v. Sargent Cert Opposition Brief:


Tonasket v Sargent Cert Opp

The petition is here.

SCT Denied Cert in Miller v. Wright — Challenge to Puyallup Tax Agreement

On Monday, the Supreme Court denied Miller v. Wright, a challenge to the Puyallup-Washington tax agreement. Order list here.

Lower court materials here.

Update Federal District Court Materials in Yakama/Washington Tax Dispute

Here are updated materials in State of Washington v. Yakama Nation Tribal Court (E.D. Wash.):

DCT Denying Motion to Dismiss for Ineffective Service

DCT Order Denying Motion to Compel Arbitration

Yakama Motion to Compel Arbitration

Yakama Motion to Dismiss for Ineffective Service

State Opposition to Yakama Motions

Yakama Reply on Arbitration

Yakama Reply on Ineffective Service Motion

Prior posts are here and here. The case is pending in the CA9 — materials here.

Tonasket v. Sargent Cert Petition — Challenge to Colville Tax Compact


Tonasket v Sargent Cert Petition

Questions presented:

1. Whether Indian tribal immunity from suit allows the Indian tribe, a price fixing competitor, to be immune from federal anti-trust laws?

2. Whether the officials of an Indian tribe that include the tribe’s tobacco tax administrator, acting in violation of federal law, can be protected by tribal immunity when prospective relief is sought?

Lower court materials here.

Opening Ninth Circuit Briefs in Yakama-State of Washington Tax Dispute

Here are the briefs in Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Reservation v. State of Washington:

Yakama Opening Brief

Washington Answer Brief

Reply Brief to come

Lower court materials here and here. Tribal court materials here.

Miller v Wright Cert Opposition Brief


Miller v Wright Cert Opp

The petition is here. No chance for a grant. I wouldn’t have even filed an opposition….