Rural And Urban Idaho Divided On Possible Local Sales Tax Bill

Jan 4, 2019

A bill that would allow more than a select few resort towns in Idaho to implement local sales tax options is likely going to be introduced in the 2019 legislative session. Some lawmakers say it has a slim chance of passing.
Credit David Erickson / Flickr

Ahead of this year’s legislative session, one issue causing friction between Idaho’s cities and rural towns is local sales tax options. A bill could be introduced in the upcoming session opening up more revenue streams for communities.

Only a select few resort cities in Idaho and three local auditorium districts are allowed to implement a local sales tax option. Among the towns with taxing privileges are McCall, Sun Valley, Stanley and Salmon.

The money raised by the taxes – in some cases from lodging or restaurant purchases – goes towards community projects and improvements.

The Times News reports Lee Heider, a Republican state senator from Twin Falls, has proposed a bill that would let cities and counties throughout the state introduce their own local sales tax options.

It’s unclear whether the bill would get enough support to pass. Senate minority leader Michelle Stennett, a Democrat from Ketchum, says she hopes the measure passes. Her town is among the resort cities already able to collect local sales tax.

In the lower chamber of the legislature, Democrat and House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding says he sees challenges from rural communities preventing the passage of the bill. In the past, lawmakers from outlying towns have argued they don’t directly benefit from local sales taxes when they go to shop in larger metropolitan areas.

House Speaker Scott Bedke says he’s doubtful the bill will become law.

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