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IRS Amps Up Miccosukee Tribe Tax Probe

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37th Miccosukee Indian Arts Festival

37th Miccosukee Indian Arts Festival

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Bungled in an intense IRS investigation, the Miccosukee Indians’ luck is running out faster than that of its casinos’ gamblers.

CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald reports the Internal Revenue Service has escalated its investigation into the Miccosukee Indians’ finances. The agency is demanding the West Miami-Dade tribe hand over internal records showing millions in allegedly unreported payments from its gambling profits to tribal members.

The Miccosukees are trying to stop the action in Miami federal court, which seeks internal documents of the tribe’s gaming distributions during 2006-2010 as well as its council meeting records on tax matters from as far back as 1985.

The IRS is demanding a long list of documents — from Miccosukee disbursement statements to check register reports, plus any tax advice from tribal lawyers and accountants. It’s part of an aggressive push to recover potentially tens of millions of dollars in back income taxes.

The tribe lashed out at the IRS.

“No longer is there even a pretense that the United States is not seeking to harass the Miccosukee Tribe and its members,” the tribe claims in court documents.

“The Miccosukee Tribe is not subject to income taxes, yet the IRS seeks all of its records based on sections of the [tax code] that do not even apply to the tribe,” wrote Miccosukee lawyer Bernardo Roman III in court documents.

Roman could not be reached for further comment Tuesday.

The federal agency’s legal battle with the Miccosukees has been raging over the past decade, with the IRS winning a series of fights over access to the tribe’s financial accounts held by banks and other third parties. The tribe, which has tried to use its sovereign status to block the IRS’ civil probe, might now be on the hook for taxes owed by many of its 600 members.

To read about the countless other battles between the Miccosukee Tribe and the federal government, see the full article in The Miami Herald.

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