Budget & Tax

Indian ruling could hit the state treasury

Curtis Shelton | June 12, 2023

“The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2020 ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma, which declared that the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s Oklahoma reservation was never formally disestablished for purposes of federal major-crimes law, has now led to a state court case [Stroble v. Oklahoma Tax Commission] that will determine if all American Indians in the affected areas are now exempt from paying Oklahoma state income tax,” Ray Carter reported last month.

There are at least 400,000 Native Americans who live in Oklahoma, with 270,000 living on tribal lands. The current per capita income-tax burden in Oklahoma is $1,236. If the Oklahoma Supreme Court rules against the Oklahoma Tax Commission, it could amount to $334 million in lost income-tax revenue, with a potential for another $161 million from tribal members who could relocate to tribal land.

The result would be one of the largest tax cuts in state history, but eligibility would be based on ethnicity.

Curtis Shelton Policy Research Fellow

Curtis Shelton

Policy Research Fellow

Curtis Shelton currently serves as a policy research fellow for OCPA with a focus on fiscal policy. Curtis graduated Oklahoma State University in 2016 with a Bachelors of Arts in Finance. Previously, he served as a summer intern at OCPA and spent time as a staff accountant for Sutherland Global Services.

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