New Brunswick government and First Nations chiefs to negotiate new tax agreements

FREDERICTON — The New Brunswick government and six Mi’kmaq First Nations have agreed to attempt to settle out of court issues related to terminated tax agreements.

The chiefs had launched legal action, but in a news release Tuesday, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Arlene Dunn says the province and the six First Nations and their chiefs jointly presented the court with a consent order setting out the commitment to negotiate.

In April, the chiefs said the province’s decision not to renew existing tax collection agreements was an insult and a crushing attack on their economic viability.

The agreements date back to 1994 and were intended to provide tax fairness for businesses on and off reserve. Before that, businesses on First Nations land were not collecting taxes from non-Indigenous customers.

Under the agreements, the province rebates to the communities 95 per cent of the first $8 million collected in provincial sales tax on tobacco, gasoline and other fuels, and 70 per cent on amounts above $8 million.

Those old tax agreements will end on July 12, 2021, but First Nations retailers will continue to collect and remit the tax and the province will make payments to the six communities until Dec. 31, 2023, unless a new tax agreement is reached before that date.

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