Tracey Simon has worked with the First Nations Tax Commission (FNTC), previously known as the Indian Taxation Advisory Board (ITAB), for 17 years. In her current role as FMA Registrar, Tracey primarily maintains the law registry, as well as assists First Nations with guiding them through their law-development processes. She stays informed about the First Nations on the FMA Schedule and works with the FNTC’s Chief Operating Officer on preparing and assembling the quarterly commission meeting materials. Tracey is a member of the Upper Nicola Band. Her work experience is wide-ranging, from performing general office and administrative duties, to working as a First Nation Tax Administrator for several years.
Staying organized is integral to the work Tracey does, as law registration and the law-development process involves many steps that need to be followed in a consistent way. As well, it is common for the First Nations that Tracey assists to be at different points in the law-development process, and with different types of laws, which requires her to keep track of their progress. If you are in this process, are planning for it, or are curious to learn more, Tracey will be able to provide guidance and support.
What do you like most about your position?
I like coming in to provide that support. For me, it’s about managing the paperwork associated with law development. I’m here to make sure this organization has someone who can keep the processes on track. By doing that, it allows your Tax Advisors to be mindful about providing support to their First Nations.
How important is the FMA Law Registry?
Maintaining a law registry is legislated under the FMA. The law registry is important because it acts as a central repository for all laws. With the law registry, original laws are all stored in the same place and can be found easily.
How crucial is maintaining the law registry to your role?
It is the core responsibility of my job.
I also work with the First Nations Financial Management Board (FMB), which publishes and deposits the financial administration laws that they approve. They submit them to me for registration, and I oversee their publication in the First Nations Gazette (www.fng.ca).
How many laws do you prepare and register?
On an annual basis, we process more than 200 laws.
That means you are working with more than 100 First Nations in co-ordinating their law development and preparing for the review of those laws by the Commission. What keeps you going?
I’m meticulous and organized. Maintaining the registry is a natural fit for me.
What about interests outside of work?
I try to stay active mostly by going to the gym. I also enjoy outdoor activities, such as walking, running and paddle boarding. In the winter, I like to stay in or go to the gym.
The registry has been undergoing a transition from paper to electronic records. What has this process meant for you?
It’s made the whole process more efficient. I can remember having to do things manually. Take technical reviews, for example. In the past, I’d print the technical reviews, bring the physical files to all reviewers and the director, have everyone sign off and then scan those documents. Today, all steps taken in the creation and preparation of dockets are completed electronically.
Each type of law has a different development process. Let’s talk about the local revenue law-development process first. How does this process begin?
The local revenue laws include the property assessment and property taxation laws. The First Nation decides whether it wants to implement property taxation. It would then identify its legal counsel and provide the property taxation laws on the FNTC website. FNTC Tax Advisors would then be available to work with the interested First Nation and its legal counsel.
What do you normally do when a First Nation gets close to the end of the local revenue law-development process?
When they’re getting close, I touch base with them. I make sure that their Section 6 notice gets posted, sent and published in accordance with applicable standards. I do this to ensure First Nations are successful.
What is the most important thing First Nations need to know about the process?
When a First Nation submits a BCR to confirm its desire to establish property tax laws, we receive evidence that the First Nation will be added to the FMA Schedule. At this point, the First Nation is eligible for a law development grant. We work with their legal counsel, and/or them, to make sure that their laws are in their best form and that they comply with the FMA, the standards and regulations.
Let’s talk about the annual laws process. How are these laws different?
The annual laws include the annual expenditure law and the annual tax rates law. As opposed to the local revenue laws, which set the foundation and generally have to be done once, the annual laws must be done each year, as required by the First Nation’s property tax laws.
Tracey’s Tips for Submitting Annual Laws to the FNTC
- We encourage First Nations to draft annual laws using the latest sample laws available on the FNTC website, which would ensure the FMA, regulations and FNTC Standards are met.
- We encourage the First Nation to work with its FNTC Advisor on drafting annual laws.