McCALEB says Oklahoma offers good revenue-sharing model for tribes, towns

Monday, June 4th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A Chickasaw tribal member who now heads the Bureau of Indian Affairs says Oklahoma can be a model to other states in how tribal and local governments share revenues.

Neal McCaleb, the former Oklahoma transportation secretary, said Oklahoma's Indian tribes already share revenues in the form of fuel taxes.

Of the state's 39 federally recognized tribes, 28 have agreements with the state to pay about one-fourth of the state tax that non-Indian retailers pay.

``The model is tax sharing. It doesn't cost anything more to the consumer,'' McCaleb said.

He said similar agreements could be made on sales taxes collected by tribes on other goods. He said sharing such revenue would ease the fears of local officials who think they're losing money when Indian businesses collect taxes.

On the other hand, McCaleb said non-Indians need to understand tribal sovereignty and that tax collection is an important way for tribes to raise funds.

``The tribal governments are sovereign governments, and they have the right to a tax base, too,'' he said.

McCaleb said Oklahoma's Legislature found a way to balance revenue-sharing with tribal sovereignty by having many tribes that sold gasoline agree to collect taxes for the state because they use the same roads as non-Indians.

The Choctaws collect fuel taxes for the state under their compact agreement, Choctaw Chief Greg Pyle said, and sell gasoline at several travel plazas in southeastern Oklahoma.

Similar agreements could be made between cities and tribes concerning sales taxes on grocery and convenience store goods, McCaleb said.