Understanding Our Government: PBPN Taxes
By: Michelle Simon
The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Tax Commission is the Nation’s designated taxing authority. The commission consists of three individuals appointed by Tribal Council along with a fourth role, that of Tax Director. It is the duty of the Tax Director to provide the day-to-day administrative services required to uphold PBPN Law and Order Codes, Title 10 General Revenue and Taxation along with Title 13 Business Licensing. The Tax Director also serves as the Secretary for the Tax Commission.
One of the primary duties of the Tax Director is to manage all aspects of the reporting process on tobacco sales to the state of Kansas. The PBPN entered a Tobacco Tax Compact with the state of Kansas in January 2016, to the benefit of the Nation. The Nation is responsible for tracking each and every pack of cigarettes listed within the MSA sold on the PBPN Common Land. In return, the tribe receives a portion of the state’s annual $60 Million Master Settlement Agreement Payment. For years 2016 and 2017, the tribe received over $350,000 in combined revenue.
The Tax Director is also responsible for licensing anyone doing business on the common land. For now, the main type of licensing on the common land is for food sales. Any individuals that wish to sell food on the common land must provide the proper documentation for food handling as well as establishing their food license prior to completing any sales. Other vendor licensing include local towing companies and bail bonds, which work with the Tribal Court and Tribal Police. The Nation has also issued one vendor license for use of the Nation’s trademarked seal, which generates royalties.
Any business generating over 10k in profit per year is taxable. If anyone on the common land wanted to start a business at home, they would need to talk with the Tax Director and establish vendor licensing. The only sales currently exempt from licensing are the Nation’s governmental entities and tribal members that create or sell traditional Indian art or handicrafts.
The Nation uses a bulk of its generated tax revenue to fund economic development projects for the welfare of tribal members. A few recent projects the Nation’s tax dollars were allocated to are the infrastructure needs of Language and Road & Bridge departments as well as Southwood Estates Phase II housing project. Tax revenues also sustain the Tax Director and associated costs.
The Nation’s Tax Director is Georgia Smith. She has been in her role for about 8 months and will have served the Nation for 7 years this April. Smith completed her Masters of Accountancy through Emporia State University in December 2018. She is the second Tax Director in the Nation’s history, with the role initially established in 2012.
The Tax Director maintains an independent office, located at the Government Center – Upper level. Smith can be reached at 785-966-3998. More information about Title 10 and 13 can be found at www.pbpindiantribe.com in the Government section. Current members of the Tax Commission include PBPN Tribal Council Treasurer Wade Pahmahmie, Tribal Council Member Thomas Wabnum, along with the PBPN General Manager Kristen Wamego.