In announcing the lawsuit against Riverside Monday, the tribe said possessory interest taxes are “unlawful and infringe on Tribal sovereign rights.”
“Riverside County uses the money collected on the Reservation to benefit people living in other cities and areas far away from where the taxes are collected,” Agua Caliente Chairman Jeff Grubbe said in the statement. “The Tribe’s desire is to keep tax money within our commuity to service the Coachella Valley.”
In the complaint filed Jan. 2 in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the tribe argued that the possessory interest tax increases the economic burden on the tribe and its members by devaluing Indian land leases. The tax also limits the tribe’s income, since the tribe has agreed to forgo its own tax in order to avoid the double taxation of leaseholders, according to the court filing.
Officials with Riverside County said Monday they believe they have the legal authority to collect the tax and that new regulations hasn’t changed that.