The NBBC source resolution with reference to “aboriginal tax issues” was passed at the last NBBC/AGM on Nov/18 in Prince Rupert 2003.This resulted in a Taxation Task Group being formed .Then the NBBC Pres.Chris Cook presented the tax issues to the F.N.Summit meeting Dec/2003 and attained full and unanimous support via F.N.S. resolution “Therefore BE IT Resolved: That the First Nations Summit Chiefs in Assembly fully support the Native Brotherhood of BC’s Taxation Task group in its efforts to address the hardships of the aboriginal peoples in BC in Revenue Canada’s interpretation and application of section 87 of the Indian Act”.
On Tuesday,January 20th 2004 and Wednesday,January 21st 2004 the NBBC held a taxation workshop/conference at the Radisson hotel in Burnaby BC with 146 aboriginal
representatives from more than 50 organizations.The leadership NBBC/First Nations Summit/Union of BC Chiefs and urban aboriginal organizations have agreed to work together to resolve the inconsistent tax policies that CCR is applying to our aboriginal people in BC.
Chairman ED Newman of TTG stated: “We know what the BC treaty process is all about.They want to take away 95% of the land and resources and they want to take away our right to not pay taxes.”
Pres.of Union of BC Chiefs Steward Phillip stated that, “ what is going on here in the next two days is very important. It is not only important to the NBBC,but it is important to all First Nations people.I commend the NBBC for taking on this issue.It requires strength and unity”.
Pres. of NBBC Chris Cook stated:“This Alliance of treaty and non treaty,river,coastal interior and inland Aboriginal peoples is a powerful signal that our people are beyond
frustrated with government policies and actions attack and destroy “Aboriginal Rights”.
Our people are suffering too much and we need to end that.You have heard of Oka and
Burnt Church.Today we are giving notice to the Federal and Provincial governments,this is our Oka”!
First Nations Summit Grande Chief Ed John stated: “We need some practical work that
can go into our band offices and First Nation organizations so as to not attract CRA.
The FNS on September 17th/04 signed a protocol agreement with BC.I met with Minister
of Finance to set up a process to address some issues.They are open to that and there could be some other issues.We need to have discussions with Finance Ministers and the Premier and Prime Minister of Canada”.How do we take this issue forward? “At every one of the negotiating tables they come to the table with their ideas. Because we have a table it should be one place that negotiators need to come together and put a submission about not putting things in good faith on the table that are inflexible”.Ed,went on to mention that there is a national AFN tax issue committee in discussion with the government.He further stated, that the AFN Chief Phil Fontaine was coming to Vancouver and will discuss this issue and for him to meet with the Prime Minister.
He said “we need to establish some grounds as to what to put forward in this remission order to the government of Canada”.
Ed John closed by saying that, “we have to be proud of Canada’s senior organization the NBBC.We should never let it sit idle.We should always be proud of the role it played
in our history. He assured the delegates that FNS would appoint someone to the TTG. “The NBBC,Aboriginal Fish Com,FN Summit,Union of BC Cheifs,United Native Nations,Friendship Centers I’m glad we have all have come together”.
Hugh Braker stated: In 1983 Nowegijick most of the people in the fishing community went to see their lawyers to find out how they could work into this.People started setting up company’s on reserve.Very few people say their office it was created for this purpose.
Then a few years ago Williams’s case.This started the connecting factors.Since then there
have been more court cases. Is it for the benefit of Indians? Where is the work done? Whole host connecting factors. Suddenly we had to sit and guess what the connecting factors were and how to direct our clients. After the “William’s case” they came out more guide lines.More than 90% must be done the reserve. If less than this they will pro-rate. One of the questions we get from our community fishermen is how can I set up a company on reserve? After the Williams case we directed that all of their Native court workers hold board of directors meetings on reserve. This still might not be good enough if everything else was held off reserve. The percentages still are in effect. In a recent court case it is more and more the site is becoming more important. Given that Akiwenzie vs R case to show how the tax court will go all over the board when in court.
The CCR participants were Dave Jex, Assistant Director, Audit Division-Northern BC&
Yukon TSO provided an explanation of the mandate and obligation of the Audit Division.
Bob Hill- Assistant Director, Revenue Collections Division-Northern BC &Yukon TSO
provided an overview of collections policy and procedures. Mickey Sarazin-Director,
Income Tax Rulings Directorate-Ottawa explained the headquarters functions that deal
with First Nations issues, and role played by the Rulings Directorate. Betty Read-Team
Leader/Technical Advisor-Audit Division, Northern BC &Yukon TSO provided an in-depth look at the taxation of commercial fishers,the role of CCRA, limitations imposed
by legislation,details of CCRA administer the Section 87 exemption,and the reasons CCRA administer the exemption the way they do.Gerald Heilbert-Intergovernmental Corporate Affairs-Regional Office in Vancouver explained the intergovernmental affairs role relating to First Nations issues in the Pacific Region.
A question was asked of the lawyers about the possibility of a “treaty interim measures process” with regard to a remission order? A lawyer Bill S. Maclagan from Blake,Cassels & Graydon LLP “there is no reason you can’t do a remission order that is political. They would maybe say yes notwithstanding the tax”.
Betty Reid stated: an employee of CRA Prince George office discussed her topics around our initial letter dated December 3,2003.She went to explain her view of common misconceptions and her role in Canada Revenue Agency (CCR).And explained the role
and responsibilities of other panel presenters attending at today. She stated that her department could not approach INAC to ask to change section 87 and it is what the courts
say that we (CCR)that we must follow and we don’t have the discretion to look beyond. She went on to say that if “Rachael White” had won her case things might have changed. She also mentioned that section 81 of the “Income Tax Act” the department of finance is responsible for developing the wording.
Mickey Sarazin stated: “I have a couple of things I would like to emphasis. I would agree there is a problem and so would Betty.The fact that our hands are tied you can take a test
case to court and get it settled probably in your favor. Another alternative is Mr.Stan Keyes is on the aboriginal committee of cabinet. You could write a letter to this committee to ask this question”. He further explained that we need to speak to some one from government or from INAC.He closed by saying if you don’t the ear of the appropriate people we will be sitting here talking the same talk in three years.
The following the 2 day conference on January 22,2004 the TTG task group members met and discussed the next steps.Chair Ed Newman asked the questions, “do we need
lawyers”? Do we go to court? A TTG member stated,” there is a lot of work ahead and
we have to be professional about this”.
It was stated by various TTG members that we have to raise funds with our communities
and organizations and possibly federal government. A consensus around the table was “we have to raise funds with our people”. These funds to be used for a possible option of
“interim measures treaty process” or remission order CCRA or Supreme Court litigation.
President Chris Cook stated that their should be head off at the NBBC office at Park Royal and suggested that band tax committees be set up and we get our message out to our communites.The result being a structure of communication between the NBBC TTG and our First Nations and urban organizations.
A motion was passed to contract Randy Ginger to co-ordinate this process with our communities and the private sector eg,lawyers,accountants and governments for TTG out of the NBBC office. This initial contract would be for three months.
Task Tax Coordinator (NBBC)