On September 20, 2018, the President signed HR 6124, the Tribal Social Security Fairness Act (“Act”), as PL 115-243. The Act provides long-sought parity for tribal governments with regard to Social Security and Medicare coverage for tribal council members. It provides a process by which tribal governments, like state and local governments, can opt-in to Social Security and Medicare taxes and coverage for appointed or elected tribal council members and tribal council leadership (“members”). The Act also retroactively provides a process by which tribal council members who had erroneously paid (and were not refunded) Social Security and Medicare taxes prior to enactment of the Act can receive Social Security and Medicare credit for the payment of those taxes.
In our General Memorandum 17-033 of June 28, 2017, we wrote in detail about previous iterations of the legislation, including a summary of past efforts to provide tribal governments with parity in this regard. It appears that the main difference between the Act and its earlier versions is that the Act provides a process by which tribal council members can retroactively obtain credit for past Social Security and Medicare taxes paid. The Act was sponsored by Representative Reichert (R-WA) and co-sponsored by Representatives: DelBene (D-WA); Cole (R-OK); Kilmer (D-WA); Schweikert (R-AZ); Gallego (D-AZ); and O’Halleran (D-AZ). Their statements of support for the Act when it was considered on the House Floor are attached.
Please let us know if we may provide additional information about the Tribal Social Security Fairness Act.