BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Alcohol deliveries have resumed on an American Indian reservation in North Dakota after tribal leaders temporarily shelved new rules and higher taxes on booze, state Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger said Monday.
The move comes after the Three Affiliated Tribes in November established new rules and doubled the tax on alcohol for the 22 non-American Indian-owned businesses that sell alcohol products on the Fort Berthold Reservation.
Distributors had halted deliveries in protest at the higher tax and rules that would have subjected them to inspection by the tribe.
In a Dec. 5 resolution by the tribe, the tax and new rules were suspended for 60 days, giving the tribal chairman authority to extend them for 60 additional days.
Three Affiliated Tribes Chairman Mark Fox did not immediately return telephone calls on Monday. The tribe has said it needs higher tax rates to pay for road repairs, law enforcement and other consequences of oil development on the reservation.
Rauschenberger said the state learned of the tribes resolution on Friday, and that bar and liquor store owners are now receiving alcohol products again. Business owners had said they refused to remit the new tax or sign documents that give the tribe authority to examine their records or facilities.
“The 60 days was enough time for them to continue their shipments,” Rauschenberger said of the booze distributors.
The Three Affiliated Tribes’ 7 percent tax on alcohol is in addition to the state’s 7 percent tax on alcohol. Tribal-owned establishments such as the Four Bears Casino and other businesses owned by tribal members don’t collect or remit the state tax, which is not shared with the tribe.
But tribal businesses must purchase alcohol from a North Dakota distributor under state law.
Rauschenberger said the state collected $325,000 in taxes from alcohol sales on the reservation last year.
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