Florida imposes a tax on gross receipts from utility services that are delivered to retail customers. Under express statutory authority, utility providers may separately itemize this utility tax on a customer’s bill and add it to the total charge for utility services. If the utility provider does so, the customer is legally required to remit the tax to the utility provider, which then transfers the payment to the State. Here, petitioner is a federally recognized Indian tribe that has purchased utility services delivered to tribal reservations. Petitioner’s utility providers have exercised their statutory right to separately itemize the utility tax when billing the Tribe for such services.
The question presented is:
When a utility provider exercises a state-law right to expressly pass on a utility tax to a federally recognized Indian tribe for utility services delivered to the tribe’s reservations and the tribe is therefore legally obligated to pay the tax, is the tax an impermissible
direct tax on the tribe?
Lower court materials here.