Advantages of the Tribal Member Benefits Program

By Kaili Berg

     The FSA has been working with American Indian Tribes for the past 15 years, creating and administering tribal member benefit programs as well as implementing investment management strategies to maintain and fund these programs effectively.

     With the approval of the General Welfare Exclusion Act of 2014, established guidelines allow American Indian Tribes to provide even more non-taxable benefits to its members.

     The General Welfare Exclusion enables tribes to create unique tax-exempt benefit programs to address their social, cultural, and economic issues. Developing these programs, tribes give significant consideration to individual needs as well as the needs of the entire community.

     To qualify as an “Indian general welfare benefit,” any payment made or service provided to or on behalf of a member of an Indian Tribe under a tribal government must be administered under specified guidelines and does not discriminate in favor of members of the governing body of the tribe.

     Also, the benefits provided under the program are available to any tribal member who meets the guidelines, are for the promotion of general welfare, are not lavish or extravagant, and are not compensation for services.

     A variety of initiatives aimed at protecting tribal social programs has been going on for decades. With the passage of the Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act, now tribes are empowered to create benefit programs that can change the lives of their members.

     The Tribal member benefit programs include but are not limited to housing, health care, education, cultural and religious, and elderly and disabled programs.