SANTA FE, N.M. - Navajo Nation Vice President Ben Shelly appeared before the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) recently to discuss an investigation into the collection of non-federal taxes by utility and telecommunication companies operating on New Mexico's Native American lands, including the Navajo Nation.
The New Mexico PRC recently gave notice to utility and telecommunication companies to report all non-federal taxes collected within the previous calendar from Native Americans residing on tribal lands.
"The Navajo Nation is sovereign," Vice President Shelly said. "Jurisdictional issues can be challenging. Yet we can overcome this by working in a government-to-government role, and, perhaps, signing a memorandum of understanding between New Mexico's PRC and our Navajo Nation Telecommunications Commission may be in our best interest. With this in place, we might be able to hold joint hearings on important utility and telecommunications issues, such as the gross receipts tax issue."
States, including New Mexico, are pre-empted from collecting gross receipts tax on non-tribal services rendered to tribal entities or tribal members residing on Native American lands, according to federal regulations. New Mexico tax regulations provide that receipts from selling telecommunications services to a tribe or member of a tribe are not subject to gross receipts tax as prohibited by federal law.
Ernest Franklin, Navajo Nation Telecommunications Regulatory Commission director, and Mary Etsitty, Navajo Nation Tax Commission director, accompanied Vice President Shelly in the meeting with the New Mexico PRC.
For more information, please contact Sherrick Roanhorse, (928) 871-7003.