Eye On Boise

Rev & Tax backs sales tax exemption sought by anti-abortion group

The House Revenue & Taxation Committee has approved HB 62 and sent it to the full House, to grant a sales tax exemption to non-profit pregnancy resource centers that don’t perform abortions; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

Rep. Kelly Packer, R-McCammon, told the committee that she was prompted to propose the bill after “almost a year ago I had the wonderful experience of meeting Brandi Swindell,” an anti-abortion activist whose pregnancy resource center, Stanton Healthcare, put on a live demonstration of ultrasounds on pregnant women in the state Capitol during last year's legislative session. Swindell told her that she had recently been audited and had to pay $6,000 in back sales taxes.

“Stanton Healthcare was audited, and they unfortunately had not been paying (sales) taxes for seven years,” Packer told the committee.  “They thought they were already under a tax-exemption umbrella, and found out unfortunately that they weren’t,” Packer said. “And that $6,000, though not maybe a lot for the state of Idaho, provides a hardship for their facility.”

Rep. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise, said, “It sounds like a situation where an Idaho taxpayer didn’t realize they were subject to the tax, got caught short. This happens fairly frequently.” He said many other types of non-profit medical clinics, whether they work with the disabled, treat diabetes or treat Alzheimers, might be just as deserving of a sales tax exemption as Swindell’s group. “When we treat different taxpayers differently just because an issue arose with one of them, that doesn’t strike me as a rational basis on which to change the tax code,” he said.

But Burgoyne was on the losing end of a voice vote to pass the bill. Packer told the panel, “I’m not sure why some are chosen and some are not, and today I speak primarily for this individual organization rather than the whole group.” Packer said she excluded pregnancy resource centers that perform abortions from the tax break in her bill “because of my personal moral code.” If the bill becomes law, it would add the pregnancy centers to a section of state law that provides sales tax exemptions for a specific list of organizations including the March of Dimes, the American Cancer Society, the Special Olympics and the Idaho Ronald McDonald House.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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