US Tax Court Rejects Navajo Elder’s Claim that Nephew is Dependent under Tribal Common Law

Interesting case, this Begay v. Commissioner.

The court rejects Religious Freedom Restoration Act and Equal Protection claims, holding that a Navajo elder’s care of a nephew is insufficient to confer the required status for deductions under the Internal Revenue Code.

Here is the argument:

Although petitioner concedes that TD is not her qualifying child under section 152(c)(2), she argues that the exclusion from the section 152(c)(2) relationships of certain obligatory clan-based relationships in Navajo culture violates her constitutional rights under both the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution and the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution. According to petitioner, in Navajo culture and tradition children are not only children of the parents; they are also children of the clan. Petitioner submits that a Navajo clan consists of the first clans of the child’s mother, father, maternal grandfather, and paternal grandfather and that the clan relationship may extend beyond the foregoing if, for example, the child is adopted.

This entry was posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Research, taxation and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to US Tax Court Rejects Navajo Elder’s Claim that Nephew is Dependent under Tribal Common Law

  1. Jim Crittenden says:

    How Dickensian.

    “As here, congressional action awarding monetary
    benefits such as the earned income credit inevitably involves the kind of line
    drawing that will leave some comparably needy person outside the favored circle.”

    Could have at least used “child” instead of “person”. Also, it’s convenient to invoke sovereignty to print more money for Wall St., but then invoke limited resources in this case. I guess some people just like to live in a room full of 800-pound gorillas!

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