Income Earned by Tribal Members on Reservations Now CA Tax-Exempt

The Franchise Tax Board has recently announced that tribal members who live on reservations and who receive income from reservation sources are not subject to California state income tax on that income.  This position came as a response to several recent court cases where courts had to determine whether "reservation source income" should be interpreted broadly as income earned by a tribal member living and working on the reservation or more narrowly limited to income earned on the reservation and paid only by the tribe.

Thus, if a tribal member lives and works on the reservation, income earned by the tribal member, whether paid by the tribe or any other third party, is California tax-exempt. 

If tribal members have been paying California taxes on this income, they are entitled to refunds going back approximately four years.