Nome may nix tax-exempt status for churches, non-profit groups

NOME — Houses of worship and scores of nonprofit organizations in Nome would lose their tax-exempt status as the city looks for ways to increase revenue.

The city council last week began considering stripping the tax-exempt status of these institutions as a way to bring in more money, KNOM reported.

The city also is considering other means to fill city coffers, including charging sales tax on items that are currently exempt, including such things as banking, used-car sales over $1,500 and medical services.

However, council members said those transactions would be too difficult to track, and they concentrated on removing the exemptions for city churches, the regional nonprofit social service group Kawerak Inc., and more than 40 other organizations.

Removing the emptions across-the-board would be the only fair way to handle it, city council member Matt Culley said.

“My personal opinion, when it goes this way, is take them all, so we’re not biased,” Culley said. “We’re not picking and choosing what we think is great. Get rid of them (all). And if the city gets healthy again, then you can go back and look at them.”

The city anticipates raising as much as $800,000 per year in additional revenue by removing such exemptions.

No decision was made, and none is expected for weeks or months as the council continues to flesh out ideas to raise funds.

The council also looked at closing loopholes that makes property like gold dredges and potentially airplanes untaxed if they are in town only for part of the year.

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