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IRS Releases New General Welfare Guidance

June 3, 2014

Following a prolonged period of dialogue and consultation with tribes, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued its final guidance on General Welfare Exclusion (GWE) as it applies to tribal governments. This guidance seeks to ensure that the sovereign right of tribal nations to provide services that improve the welfare of their citizens will be uniformly upheld.

 

The guidance released today, June 3, 2014, in the form of a revenue procedure (RP 2014-35), improves upon the IRS' interim guidance (Notice 2012-75) issued in December 2012. Some of the notable changes include:

  • Expanding GWE to include individuals considered as "qualified nonmembers", such as spouses and children.  
  • Expanding GWE to include payment of all expenses for individuals participating in, and attending certain tribal activities (including religious, cultural and historical tribal activities).
  • Expanding GWE to include payment of expenses associated with funerals, burials and other bereavement events.
  • Expanding GWE to include payments for preschool, education, and transportation expenses.
  • Clarifying that tribes can fund general welfare programs through levies, taxes, service fees and revenues from tribally-owned businesses.

NAFOA will host a joint webinar with its organizational partner, the National Congress of American Indians, at 12:30 p.m. (EDT) on Thursday, June 5, to review the guidance and its impact on tribal governments. Please send any opinions, questions and comments to Dante Desiderio, dante@nafoa.org.

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