Newly introduced tax on reserve means more revenue for band

Blog, Aboriginal Futures, Joseph Quesnel

Ask the average Canadian what they think about taxes and don’t be surprised by the scoff or groan you receive.

For many, taxes are almost a necessary evil. The two certain thing in life, as the saying goes, are death and taxes. They represent what we all collectively pay for services and the cost of government. Justifiably, many Canadians are concerned how their tax money is being spent.

For a growing number of First Nations communities, paying any tax, at least on-reserve, is a new concept.

This Saskatchewan First Nation is celebrating the introduction of a new goods and services tax that will involve money being remitted back to the band, not the federal government. The tax won’t be levied on members, however. It will be charged off the main reserve and will mainly affect leased office space in Regina on lands owned by the band.

But, the money represents the First Nation’s attempt to gather own-resoure revenue streams. The story states the band hopes to make about $20,000 a month from the tax, which it plans to use for economic development. That is all positive.

Here is a very good piece outlining the case for First Nation taxation. Under an amendment to the Indian Act passed in 1988, bands can now charge taxes. New studies by the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board confirm that taxing bands do better than non-taxing ones.

Some First Nations – particularly those with self-government agreements- tax their own members.  The Nisga’a of BC charge a sales tax and in a couple of years, will pay income tax.

More bands exploring taxation systems is quite good in the long run.