Soldotna joins new statewide sales tax commission

Nov 14, 2019

The Soldotna City Council voted Wednesday night to join an inter-governmental alliance formed to create a streamlined, statewide process in collecting sales tax on internet purchases. Until now, cities and boroughs in the state were on their own in trying to track down all the tax owed locally by online sellers out of state.
    Councilman Dave Carey said he was supporting it to ensure Soldotna got its fair share.
    “I have no doubt this will go forward and it's an idea whose time has come. I certainly know that there are things I buy online it varies greatly as to whether or not they charge taxes,” he said. “And certainly the idea that there may be charging taxes for the city of Soldotna, but Soldotna never gets it is wrong.”
    Carey also called for the city to educate its citizens as to why collecting internet sales tax was advantageous.
    Councilwoman Lisa Parker didn’t hesitate with the reasons why.
    “The reason that we collect sales tax here, part of the reason, besides supporting our our general operations keeping the library open, helping with events, parks, the police department, it also keeps our property taxes very low,” she said. “You know, point five mils for city of Soldotna residence is very low and we pay less inside city limits than if you were in the borough just across the street.”
    Councilwoman Pamela Parker, who was appointed to Seat B earlier in the meeting, said she thought the effort would serve to “level the playing field” for local stores.
    “Also, I'm really in favor of the idea of getting on board early, and then being able to help shape this in the way that we would like to see it for the city of Soldotna,” she said. “So we do want to include those exit ramps and options for the future, as early adopters, we may have more say in that one on this commission.”
    Before the unanimous vote to join the group, Vice-Mayor Paul Whitney said it’s the start of a process a long time coming.
    “I'm glad to see this come forth. We've had many public comments here in previous years about people saying, 'why don't we have some kind of a tax system on internet sales to help our, our local economy and our local businesses?,’” he said “This is the start of it. There's gonna be a lot of work still to come.”
    The first meeting of the Alaska Remote Seller Sales Tax Commission is next week.