Assembly drops tax exemptions

Posted: Tuesday, May 16, 2000

The city is upping the number of instances when it collects sales taxes from its residents.

The Juneau Assembly voted Monday night to ``put everybody on an equal footing -- both private and public,'' said Finance Committee Chairman Dwight Perkins.

The city budget this year survived the state's moderate revenue sharing cuts, Perkins said, but unless the city looks to revenue enhancement and ``prioritizing the services we provide, we may be looking at a big budget hole one of these years.''

The current sales tax exemption for government allows Juneau to tax certain of its own services, but not its own goods.

``For the city, what it means is if you buy a hamburger at Eaglecrest, you pay the tax,'' said assembly member Tom Garrett.

The ordinance also removes the exemptions for sales to or by the federal government, many of which will remain exempt by force of federal law.

Garrett saw some discrepancy in collecting from the feds: ``Why should we collect the tax on a book sold in a Forest Service shop and not on Forest Service maps?'' he asked.

Garrett also expressed some concern about the public perception of sales tax exemptions. ``The thing people get hung up on, for example, is exemptions for such as lobbyists and medical supplies. What people have to remember is the exemption is granted to the consumer, not to the purveyor.''

The ordinance leaves the exemption for other municipalities in place in order to ``maintain Juneau's role as a regional leader and good neighbor,'' according the city manager's office.

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