Juneau Assembly sends expansion of senior sales tax break back to committee

A pedestrian walks past the Juneau City Hall mural on Sept. 25, 2017. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

A pedestrian walks past the Juneau City Hall mural on Sept. 25, 2017. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

The Juneau Assembly declined Monday to broaden the sales tax exemption for seniors to include prepared foods, household supplies and personal care items.

Opposition has come from businesses. The Juneau Chamber of Commerce has argued the loosely defined exemptions would be difficult for small businesses to implement.

No one testified at Monday’s public hearing. Yet the Assembly unanimously decided to refer the draft ordinance back to its finance committee, effectively stalling the ordinance and giving it more time for review.

The initiative is being closely watched as five of the nine Assembly members had pledged in their campaigns to broaden sales tax exemptions for seniors.

Until last year, those over 65 were exempt from the city’s local sales tax. But that exemption was narrowed to essentials like food and utilities such as heating oil and electricity. The city also offers an annual cash rebate to needy seniors.

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