The Power of Indian Tribes to Tax the Income of Professional Athletes and Entertainers who Perform in Indian Country Note


Drew K. Barber

Document Type



Athletes and entertainers represent some of the highest paid individuals in the United States today. Historically, these individuals perform in various states throughout the country and pay state income taxes to each state they earn income in. With the recent rise of athletic and entertainment venues in Indian Country, more athletes and entertainers are earning income in Indian Country. For example, the Mohegan Tribe owns and operates the Mohegan Sun Arena on its reservation in Connecticut and the Arena annually hosts hundreds of professional athletic and entertainment events. Because the Mohegan Sun Arena is located in Connecticut, athletes and entertainers who perform at the Arena and receive compensation are currently subject to Connecticut's state income tax. However, as a federally-recognized Tribe, the Mohegan Tribe possesses the power to tax, including the power to tax non-member Indians doing business on the Mohegan Reservation. Although the Mohegan Tribe does not currently levy an income tax on the athletes and entertainers who perform at the Mohegan Sun Arena, the prospect of double taxation raises the question of which sovereign is really the proper taxing entity-the State or the Tribe? This Note proposes an equitable tax framework that resolves this double taxation quandary.

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