YAKIMA, Wash. - Tribal-owned gasoline station receipts are not telling the whole story, say state tax collectors, non-Indian retailers and tribal customers, the Yakima Herald-Republic reports. Washington state officials have asked the Yamaka Nation to pay $11 million in back taxes on gasoline sold to non-tribal customers.
Now, the tribe says it hasn€™t received their full state tax exemption. Non-Indian retailers are protesting again that the exemption gives tribal stations an unfair advantage that is slowly driving them out of business.
State Rep. David Taylor has asked for new talks on all Yamaka Nation agreements relating to state taxes, including gasoline and cigarettes. Tribal stations refused to comment to the newspaper, instead referring all inquiries to Harry Smiskin, the tribe€™s chairman, who did not return phone calls.
"We need to figure out a mechanism that will bring accountability to all the agreements," said Taylor. "And the gas tax is just the tip of the iceberg." His bill did not progress to a committee hearing this session.
Meanwhile, non-native retailers near reservations are struggling with a price difference that they can€™t win. Mike Chandler owns and operators two fuel stations, saying that tribal retailers capture around 80 percent of the business on the reservation.
"My financial statements are not pretty €" we've sustained about $800,000 in losses over the past five years," said Chandler. "We don't know if we're going to survive long term if something doesn't change."
State officials and tribe members met yesterday to try to hammer out the disagreement.