County of Yakima v. Confederated Tribes and Bands of Yakima Indian Nation
Yakima County, Washington, imposes an ad valorem levy on taxable real property within its jurisdiction and an excise tax on sales of such land. The County proceeded to foreclose on various properties for which these taxes were past due, including certain fee-patented lands held by the Yakima Indian Nation or its members on the Tribe's reservation within the County. Contending that federal law prohibited the imposition or collection of the taxes on such lands, the Tribe filed suit for declaratory and injunctive relief and was awarded summary judgment by the District Court. The Court of Appeals agreed that the excise tax was impermissible, but held that the ad valorem tax would be impermissible only if it would have a " 'demonstrably serious' " impact on the Tribe's " 'political integrity, economic security or . . . health and welfare' " (quoting Brendale v. Confederated Yakima Indian Nation, 492 U.S. 408, 431, 109 S.Ct. 2994, 3008, 106 L.Ed.2d 343 (opinion of WHITE, J.)), and remanded to the District Court for that determination.