City doesn't care about back sales tax

Letter to the editor

Posted: Monday, April 17, 2006

When is the city going to realize that there is a limit to taxation? Have you gotten your tax assessment for your property and house for this taxable period? You won't have to look too hard to see that your taxes have again gone up by hundreds of dollars, and in most cases, thousands of dollars. When questioned why, the city claims it doesn't set the property values and that the housing market determines that figure.

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The city, in the meantime, doesn't seem to care that there are a whole list of businesses that literally owe thousands in back sales tax (Juneau Empire, March 31).

At the head of the list (and they have been there for some time) is Alaska Fur Gallery Inc. - for an amount of $87,994.77 - not exactly chicken feed. This list goes on and on for a total of $417,811.76, and that's just part of the list.

The Assembly had a meeting the other night on the senior sales tax exemption, and a concerned woman asked Assembly member Randy Wanamaker what could be done about this. Wanamaker's answer was it is too costly and time consuming to bother with. I am sure that the city attorney could find time to pursue these infractions for that kind of money. Why not give each business a 90-day grace period to go to their lending institution for a loan to pay off their delinquent sales tax? The sales tax money is not theirs to start with.

In the past, the city has negotiated settlements for pennies on the dollar. What that means is that businesses, in effect, ended up with a nice bonus because they didn't have to pay the entire amount of the tax liability they owed.

Recent news articles indicate what most people already were aware of: That Juneau is the most expensive of Alaska's major cities. That should tell the city fathers something. The city has about run out of things to tax - I hope. An example of that are boat harbor launch fees (taxes) that will go up for the next three years, topping out at $90 or some such ridiculous figure.

Now the city is trying its best to eliminate the senior tax exemption. In the meantime, maybe the better way to address this whole situation is one big recall of the entire city administration.

Bud Womack


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