Oklahoma Tax Commission v. Sac and Fox Nation

PETITIONER: Oklahoma Tax Commission
RESPONDENT: Sac and Fox Nation
LOCATION: Austin's Auto Body Shop and mobile home

DOCKET NO.: 92-259
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1991-1993)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

CITATION: 508 US 114 (1993)
ARGUED: Mar 23, 1993
DECIDED: May 17, 1993

ADVOCATES:
David Allen Miley - on behalf of the Petitioner
Edwin S. Kneedler - on behalf of the United States, as amicus curiae
G. William Rice - on behalf of the Respondent

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Oklahoma Tax Commission v. Sac and Fox Nation

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 23, 1993 in Oklahoma Tax Commission v. Sac and Fox Nation

William H. Rehnquist:

We'll hear argument now in No. 92-259, the Oklahoma Tax Commission v. the Sac and Fox Nation.

Mr. Miley.

David Allen Miley:

Thank you, Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

This case involves whether the State of Oklahoma may tax the income of a tribal member who is employed by the tribe, the Sac and Fox Nation, and whether Oklahoma may impose motor vehicle taxes on automobiles owned by tribal members of the Sac and Fox Nation.

The Sac and Fox Nation imposes its own income and motor vehicle taxes, as the State does.

The lower courts have enjoined the... Oklahoma from collecting these taxes, and the State feels that this injunction is improper for two reasons.

There is no Federal law which preempts State law in this area, and the State law--

Byron R. White:

But this involves State taxation of tribal members.

David Allen Miley:

--This involves State taxation of tribal members, yes.

Byron R. White:

Who are living where?

David Allen Miley:

Who... some of the tribal members live on Indian country and some do not live on Indian country.

Byron R. White:

And the... but it involves both... all of those members.

David Allen Miley:

All tribal members.

We were enjoined from taxing all tribal members who worked for the tribe or any tribal members who properly license their car with the tribe.

And those tribal members, some live off the Indian country and some live on Indian country.

Of course, we have a situation where Indian country is scattered among several... is scattered among small plots in an area that is otherwise under State jurisdiction.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

What are you including in the term Indian country when you refer to it?

David Allen Miley:

That would be trust land, that is, land that is held in trust by the United States of America for the benefit of the tribe itself or for the benefit of an Indian tribal--

Sandra Day O'Connor:

An individual.

David Allen Miley:

--An individual person.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Are all of the so-called allotted lands here lands that are held in trust by the Government for tribal members?

David Allen Miley:

Yes, they would be or they'd be held under an allotment deed, but the allotment deeds are quite old.

But mainly we're talking about trust land, but we are talking about allotted land also in this area.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

If it's allotted, deeded, and not held in trust, do you count that as Indian country as well?

David Allen Miley:

Yes.

Under the Federal definition under the Federal statute, 18 U.S.C., section 1151(c), that land... an Indian allotment is included in the term.

Byron R. White:

That's as long as the--

--The Government holds title.

That is as long as the--

David Allen Miley:

The Government.