In the state of California, more than 100 Indian tribes or groups are federally recognized and eligible for funding and services from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has now issued guidelines on how to treat the per capita payments that a member of a federally recognized Indian tribe can receive from tribal trust settlements. Notice 2013-1. The U.S. government entered into settlement agreements with federally recognized Indian tribes after the tribes sued the U.S. alleging that the Departments of Interior and Treasury mismanaged monies and natural resources held in trust for each tribe’s benefit.
Notice 2013-1 notes that under 25 U.S.C. § 117b(a), per capita payments made from the proceeds of an agreement between the United States and an Indian tribe settling the tribe’s claims that the United States mismanaged monetary assets and natural resources held in trust for the benefit of the tribe by the Secretary of the Interior are excluded from the gross income of the members of the tribe receiving the per capita payments. Per capita payments that exceed the amount of the Tribal Trust case settlement proceeds and that are made from an Indian tribe’s private bank account in which the tribe has deposited the settlement proceeds are included in the gross income of the members of the tribe receiving the per capita payments under § 61. Per capita payments made by the Secretary of the Interior or Indian tribes to members of Indian tribes are outside the scope of Notice 2013-1.
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