Wabanaki Legal News, Fall 1996
Many Native Americans living in Canada come to the United States to work in various jobs for periods of time. For example, some Native Americans have come to Maine to harvest blueberries and potatoes. Some of these workers are now receiving disability or retirement benefits from the United States Social Security Administration. Because of a change in the tax treaty between the United States and Canada effective January 1, 1996, the U.S. is now deducting federal income tax from Social Security benefits paid to residents of Canada. As a result, many Native Americans living in Canada received notices from Social Security stating that federal income tax was now being deducted from their benefits. However, this notice was incorrect because it failed to state that certain individuals with U.S. resident status, like Canadian-born Native Americans with at least 50% Indian blood, are exempt from the tax.
Therefore, if income tax is being deducted from your social security benefits and you are of at least 50% Indian blood, you should contact the Social Security Administration immediately in order to correct this situation. Their number is 1-800-772-1213 or (207) 990-4530. You may also want to talk with the band office because many band officials are familiar with this situation or call the Pine Tree Native American Unit at 1-800-879-7463.