Chehalis Tribe Prevails in Great Wolf Lodge Tax Case

Here is the opinion.

The court’s summary:

Reversing the district court’s summary judgment, the panel held that state and local governments lack the power to tax permanent improvements built on non-reservation land owned by the United States and held in trust for an Indian tribe pursuant to 25 U.S.C. § 465.

The panel held that pursuant to Mescalero Apache Tribe v. Jones, 411 U.S. 145 (1973), the exemption of trust lands from state and local taxation under § 465 extends to permanent improvements on such lands. The panel concluded that the fact that the improvements were owned by a limited liability company, rather than by the tribe itself, was irrelevant, as was the question whether the improvements constituted personal property under state law.

Briefs here.

Oral argument audio here.

Judicial notice materials re: new federal leasing regs are here.

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