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Godfrey & Kahn has a long history of advising clients in a broad range of tax-related matters, including structuring of business ventures to take advantage of tax laws, disputes with the IRS and state taxation agencies, audit defenses, tax compliance and tax exempt financing. The Indian Nations Law Practice Group combines the firm's deep traditional tax expertise with knowledge of the legal principles unique to tribes and tribal corporations to provide tribes and their attorneys with reliable tax advice that protects tribal tax immunities and encourages business development. Our experience includes:
- Structuring tribal government benefit programs for members under the "general welfare doctrine" to avoid adverse tax consequences for members
- Resistance to attempts by state agencies to assert taxation authority inconsistent with established federal Indian law principles protecting tribal sovereignty, including state sales taxes, tobacco taxes, fuel taxes, entertainer taxes, etc.
- Advice in connection with federal tax incentives for economic development in Indian country and joint ventures with taxable entities to take advantage of them
- Internal audits of tribal programs to ensure compliance with applicable federal laws
- Tax issues relating to trusts established by tribes to protect the interests of minors in per capita distributions
- Employment tax issues, including ERISA compliance, unemployment taxes, social security taxes and related issues
Indian Nations Law Practice Group team leader Brian Pierson represented the Lac du Flambeau Chippewa Tribe in Lac du Flambeau v. Zeuske, 145 F.Supp.2d 969 (W.D.Wis. 2000). The case resulted in a permanent injunction against efforts by the State Department of Revenue to tax the earnings of a tribal member residing on the reservation with respect to activities off-reservation, but outside state boundaries.