Yakama Nation sues Wash. state over gas tax deal

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TOPPENISH, Wash. (AP) — The Yakama Nation has filed suit against the state of Washington for abandoning an agreement that allowed tribal gas station owners to buy bulk fuel largely free of state taxes for sale to tribal members.

Tribal members are exempt from state fuel taxes, but the state requires tribes to keep accounts of sales to non-members. The state terminated the agreement Dec. 5, saying the Yakama Nation was not abiding by its audit requirements.

The tribe said in a news release that it filed suit Dec. 6 in Yakama Tribal Court.

The state’s decision to scrap the agreement requires fuel distributors to assess the state tax of 37.5 cents per gallon on all fuel delivered to tribal stations on the reservation. The tribe’s lawsuit attempts to block the state from assessing those taxes.

Washington Department of Licensing spokesman Brad Benfield said the state is delaying ordering distributors to collect the tax while the litigation is pending.

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