Here is the AAA award in Citizen Potawatomi Nation v. State of Oklahoma:
In 2014, the OTC sent an audit demand to the Nation questioning more than $27,000,000 of exemptions claimed on the Nation’s past sales tax reports. The Nation did not respond and declined to submit further sales tax reports. The OTC then filed and prosecuted an administrative complaint seeking to revoke all of the Nation’s alcoholic beverage permits relying on State law providing for revocation of any alcoholic beverage permit upon noncompliance with State tax laws. In its complaint, the OTC asserted for the first time that State sales taxes apply to all sales by an Indian Tribe to nontribal members.
Interesting negotiating strategy.
Justice Daniel J. Boudreau issued the attached arbitration award in Citizen Band Potawatomi Nation v. State of Oklahoma, No. 01-15-0003-3452 (AAA, April 4, 2016). The Award includes (i) a declaratory judgment that federal law protecting tribal sovereignty interests preempt and invalidate the State’s sales taxes on the Nation’s sales in question; and (ii) issues an injunction against the State from taking any further actions to divest the Nation’s Compact gaming facilities of the right to sell and serve alcoholic beverages or threaten enforcement actions against them on the ground that the Nation does not comply with the State’s sales tax laws. Justice Boudreau was the single arbitrator in this dispute.
The declaratory judgement applied the balancing test analysis in White Mountain Apache Tribe v. Bracker, 448 U.S. 136 (1980) and other federal Indian law cases. Judge Boudreau held that the evidence established (i) significant federal and tribal interests in the Nation’s self-governance, economic self-sufficiency, and self-determination; (ii) the Nation alone invests value in the goods and services that it sells, does not derive value through an exemption from State sales taxes and imposed its own equivalent tribal tax on the sales; (iii) the State possesses no economic interest beyond a general quest for revenue in imposing a sales tax on the Nation’s transactions and suffers no uncompensated economic burden arising therefrom; and (iv) the federal and tribal interests at stake predominate significantly over any possible State interests in the transactions upon which the State seeks to impose its sales tax.