According to the Associated Press, the IRS auctioned off acres of land owned by a Native American tribe to help pay off a tax debt totaling more than $3 million dollars. The tribe asserts that the sale is illegal under a federal law protecting Indian land, but the IRS asserts they are within their right since the group never had the Bureau of Indian Affairs put the land back into trust, which would have protected it from seizure. Additionally, the tax liability stems from unpaid payroll taxes, which is a type of tax avoidance the IRS takes very seriously.
The 7,100 acres, or 11 square miles, of Crow Creek Sioux tribal land in central South Dakota ranch sold for almost $2.6 million, less than the $4.6 million it was appraised at, said IRS spokeswoman Carrie Resch. She did not say who bought the land.
The tribe filed a lawsuit Monday in U.S. District court in Pierre seeking to block the sale. Judge Roberto A. Lange declined their request but promised to schedule a trial to hear the tribe's arguments.
The land in question was part of the tribe's original reservation established in an 1868 treaty, and was held by the federal government in a trust for the tribe. But it was eventually allotted to individual tribal members, who then sold it to non-Indians, putting it outside the tribe's legal jurisdiction.