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Red Cliff Ordinance Prohibits Members from Engaging in Tax Avoidance Schemes with Non-Members

Red Cliff Tribe

Press Release

The Tribal Council took action on Feb. 1st, 2023, to prohibit Red Cliff tribal members from engaging in property tax avoidance schemes with non-members (RCCL sec. 39.10) for a period of ninety days while it seeks a permanent solution to this important problem.

The Tribe encourages its members to avoid becoming involved in such arrangements with non-members because such schemes create effective tax havens for nonmembers, drive up the costs of private lands, and encourage development of reservation lands by nonmembers, all ultimately restricting the Tribe’s ability to provide for the membership.

Tribal members who engage in such activity and allow documents to be filed with the Count Register of Deeds reflecting nominal tribal ownership interests in violation of RCCL sec. 39.10 will be subject to prosecution under tribal law, which rides for a fine of up to $5,000 for each day that such filings persist. A copy of RCCL sec. 39.10 (along with its adopting resolution is attached and can also be found online at

The Tribal Council hopes to obtain a more permanent solution to this problem before the ordinance is set to expire on Monday, May 23, 2023. Any comments or inquiries should be directed to Tribal Attorney David Ujke at the Red Cliff Legal Department 715-779-3725.


Instances of these tax schemes began after four Tribes (Lac Courte Oreilles, Bad River, Red Cliff, Lac du Flambeau Bands of Lake Superior) won a Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals case in August 2022. The court ruled that the State of Wisconsin cannot impose property taxes on lands owned by the tribes or their members within the permanent homelands they negotiated in the Treaty of 1854. Non-members used this court decision and enlisted Tribal Members to “own” a small percentage of non-member property, with the goal of the non-member avoiding the legal requirement to pay taxes. More details and the entire court judgement from August 2022 can be found at: >”Tribes Win Seventh Circuit Tax Appeal”


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