ITG FAQ #6 Answer-What is the General Welfare Doctrine?
Payments made under social benefit programs for promotion of general welfare are excludable from gross income under a concept known as the general welfare doctrine. This applies only to governmental payments out of a welfare fund based upon the recipient's need, and not as compensation for services.
When distributions to tribal members are made equal (per capita) and not based on need, then they do not fall under the general welfare doctrine. Benefits payable regardless of the financial status, health, educational background, or employment status of the recipient are includible in gross income of recipient.