Alaska Town Rejects End of Church Sales Tax Exemption

Officials in Nome, Alaska, have shelved a proposal to end sales tax exemptions for local non-profit organizations, including houses of worship. The move would have raised an estimated $300,000 for the cash-strapped town, but opponents worried it would affect important services.

Danielle Slingsby, who heads the Nome Community Center, said at a public hearing, “I think if you take (the exemption) away from nonprofits, you’re basically just taking away services from the people of Nome.” Residents also raised concerns about the measure’s possible impact on tribal governments, which sponsor non-profit organizations and services in the region.

KNOM Radio Mission reported that the measure could have been temporary even if passed; the proposal contained a provision that would have allowed officials to donate the funds back to local non-profits if the budget situation improved.

Nome, a settlement of roughly 4,000 by the Bering Sea, faces a serious budget shortfall for the coming year. Officials had considered the sales tax proposal alongside a measure to levy property taxes on aircraft and other local businesses and industries.