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When a tax exemption bill isn’t a new tax exemption…

The Senate Local Government & Taxation Committee has voted unanimously in favor of HB 531, to grant a sales tax exemption to Camp Rainbow Gold, a kids cancer camp north of Ketchum – but only because the camp has the exemption already. Therefore, the fiscal note shows no change in revenue to the general fund. “If it woulda had a fiscal note, it wouldn’t have had a hearing,” said Chairman Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton. “We know that already.”

Jeremy Chou, a board member of the camp, explained that the American Cancer Society operated the camp for 30 years, and was listed as a health-related entity for purposes of the tax exemption in 1984. Last year, the society decided to get out of the business of running cancer camps across the country to focus on research and other priorities, and a local group took over running the camp. Chou said, “This legislation is presented to you to preserve the status quo,” to keep the camp’s exemption even though the name of the organization running it has changed.

Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, said, “It just has a different organizational name – I don’t see this as an additional exemption.” He said lawmakers “certainly don’t want to penalize” the camp, and moved to approve the bill. To become law, it needs passage in the full Senate and the governor’s signature; the measure earlier passed the House, 69-0.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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