Another Succesful Tax Season Helping Taxpayers in Need

Tribal Alert: Thanks to the CILS I-CAN!™ E-File Partnership: 2011 Federal and State Income Tax Returns Surpass 2010 Amounts

Tax refunds totaling $349,859 were returned to over 215 low-income individuals thanks to CALIFORNIA INDIAN LEGAL SERVICES’  ICAN!™ E-FILE partnership with LEGAL AID SOCIETY OF ORANGE COUNTY.

Partnering with I-CAN!TM E-FILE allows CILS to assist you prepare individual federal and state income tax returns free of charge.  The program ensures that many of the special income tax issues facing Indian taxpayers are addressed.

2010 tax return refunds totaled $319, 506.  Each year more and more money is returned to taxpayers.  Keep CILS in mind for your 2012 tax return next year!

Download a .pdf copy of this Tribal Alert.

“I was with CILS when the first ICAN partnership was formed in 2004.  Eight years later I am privileged  to have coordinated the program for the past four years.  The amount of money returned to our community increases each year, this year by over $30,000!  Special thanks also goes to our ICAN Advocates who help us make this program so accessible.” – Angela Medrano, Escondido Staff Attorney


Victory against museum’s mistreatment of cultural items

“Without lawyers like California Indian Legal Services, no one would have helped us.” – C. McCloud


CILS and Pro Bono partner Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP announced the settlement of a lawsuit brought against the Napa Valley Museum after the Museum damaged and misplaced a number of cultural items loaned to the Museum by Coleen McCloud and Chester McCloud, both California Indians.  The Museum had originally ignored the McCloud’s repeated requests for the return of their items – until the McClouds turned to CILS.  Resolution of the matter included monetary compensation to the McClouds, an apology from the Museum for the mishandling of items, and significant operational changes, including the adoption of a new policy, at the Museum to avoid future mistreatment of loaned articles. The Legal Team worked with Native American Museum experts in the development of industry-standard lending agreements to be used in any future borrowing and display of Native American Cultural items by the Napa Museum.  Read the full Press Release.

Field Office Move

Our Sacramento Office Has Moved

Please note our new location in the heart of Sacramento’s Old Town District: 117 J Street, Suite 300, Sacramento CA  95814. The Sacramento phone number remains (916) 978-0960 but our new fax number is (916) 400-4891.


Happy anniversary, Dorothy

 A noteworthy milestone

Today marks Dorothy Alther’s 23rd anniversary with CILS.  Dorothy is a veteran of CILS and a true asset to our program.  Her positive relationships with CILS’ tribal clients, her wealth of knowledge in Indian law, and her endless energy demonstrate her commitment to the betterment of Indian country in California and nationwide.  Her recent efforts in the areas of California tribal law enforcement have begun a wave of resurgence among California tribes to assert their authority in the area of tribal police and to question BIA and other state and federal agencies policies and procedures in dealing with California tribes and their inherent jurisdiction.  Dorothy’s achievements warrant more than we can write here, so please keep a look out on our Escondido staff page and Pierce-Hickerson Award story and photo for more about Dorothy and her tenure with CILS.  A sincere congratulations and thank you to you, Dorothy, for your part in making CILS the outstanding law firm we are today.  Photo courtesy of NLADA.

IRS Extends Comment Period re Exclusion for Tribal Programs

TRIBAL ALERT February 15, 2012

EXTENDED Commenting Period on General Welfare Exclusion for
Tribal Benefit Programs


The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is extending the time limit for commenting on guidance the agency issued regarding the application of the general welfare exclusion to Indian tribal government programs. The general welfare exclusion allows certain tribal government social welfare program income to be excluded as taxable income.  Many gaming tribes in their Revenue Allocation Plan (RAP) have a provision for the allocation of gaming revenue for “general welfare.” Over the years there has been confusion with regard to whether a tribal social program established under the tribe’s “general welfare” RAP automatically qualified the program for the IRS “general welfare exemption.”  In many cases the tribal program did not qualify, thus exposing the tribe and tribal members to tax liability. Written comments are now due on or before March 14, 2012.  To read more visit:

For a .pdf copy of this Alert, click here.