US Supreme Court ruling exempts Yakama Nation from fuel tax

YAKIMA, Wash. — The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that Washington state cannot tax fuel importers who are members of the Yakama Nation.

The Yakima Herald-Republic reports the 5-4 ruling Tuesday affirmed the state Supreme Court’s similar decision that found the Yakama Treaty of 1855 exempts tribal members from state fuel taxes.

The case stemmed from a state Department of Licensing lawsuit in 2013 against a fuel distributor and convenience store in White Swan.

The department claimed the Cougar Den owned by tribal member Kip Ramsey owed $3.6 million in unpaid taxes.

Yakama Tribal Council Chairman JoDe Goudy says in a statement the nation is “grateful” for the ruling, noting that it acknowledges and upholds the treaty.

The treaty provides Yakamas the right to freely travel all highways and bring goods to market.

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