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Tribal General Welfare Guidance

The Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act of 2014 (Act) adds Section 139E to the Internal Revenue Code. This section provides that gross income does not include the value of any Indian general welfare benefit if all the following requirements are satisfied:

  • The program is administered under specific guidelines and does not discriminate in favor of members of the governing body of the tribe.
  • The benefits provided under the program are 
    • available to any tribal member who meets the guidelines;
    • for the promotion of general welfare;
    • not lavish and extravagant; and
    • not compensation for services.

The Act provides further that for ceremonial activities any items of cultural significance, reimbursement of costs, or cash honorarium for participation in cultural or ceremonial activities for the transmission of tribal culture shall not be treated as compensation for services.

The Act also provides that certain reported taxable Indian general welfare benefits are eligible for refund or credit. If you are eligible for a refund or credit, please complete a Form 1040-X, 945-X, or 843, as applicable, and send it to:

Internal Revenue Service
1973 North Rulon White Blvd
M/S 7700 Attn: GECU
Ogden, UT 84201

Be sure to write “Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act” at the top of the form to ensure we can properly process your claim.


Notice 2015-34, Application of the General Welfare Exclusion to Indian Tribal Government Programs that Provide Benefits to Tribal Members.

Chief Counsel Memorandum – provides more information about claim eligibility.

Speech by Treasury Department Deputy Assistant Secretary - At the National Congress of American Indians’ 2014 Annual Convention and Marketplace in Atlanta, Georgia (October 2014), Dr. Elaine Buckberg delivered remarks regarding the Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act of 2014 that became law in September.

Revenue Procedure 2014-35,  Application of the General Welfare Exclusion to Indian Tribal Government Programs That Provide Benefits to Tribal Members.

General Welfare Exclusions for Indian Tribal Governments webinar - Learn about Tribal General Welfare exclusion principles in Revenue Procedure 2014-35; safe harbors benefits provided by the guidance; procedural requirements for falling within the safe harbor; and specific benefits that are not compensation for services.