City, Borough of Juneau Keeping Track of Marketplace Fairness Act

Juneau officials are keeping an eye on legislation making its way through Congress that would allow states to collect sales tax on online purchases.

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The U.S. Senate this week voted 69-27 in favor of the Marketplace Fairness Act.

While Alaska does not have a statewide sales tax, the City and Borough of Juneau is one of many municipalities with a local tax on the sale of goods and services.

CBJ Finance Director Bob Bartholomew says he’s still studying the Senate bill. But he thinks there might be a way for municipalities to collect local taxes if the Alaska Legislature passes enabling legislation.

“I think we could do it without the state having a sales tax,” Bartholomew says. “But they may have to be involved as far as state legislation helping us standardize things.”
Bartholomew says it’s too soon to speculate what that state legislation might look like. But the types of things that would need to be standardized include the tax rate and exemptions.

He also says it’s too soon to say what, if any, affect the federal or state legislation would have on the amount of sales tax collected by the city.

“The next step for us, especially if it starts making progress in the House, is to get in touch with the State of Alaska and the Alaska Municipal League to see what the next steps are for trying to share the information and get the coordination across the state that we’ll need for implementation,” he says.
Bartholomew says the CBJ’s lobbyists in Washington, D.C. – Chambers, Conlon and Hartwell – will keep track of the Marketplace Fairness Act’s progress in the House.

The City and Borough of Juneau has a five percent sales tax that includes three components: A permanent one-percent tax, a temporary three-percent tax that largely funds essential city services, and a temporary one-percent tax dedicated to capital projects.

Casey Kelly is a reporter at KTOO in Juneau.

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