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Monday, February 19 2018 @ 12:40 AM AKST

Op/Ed: Will the City of Big Lake impose a business license tax?

Op-EdTo the public: As a candidate for the Big Lake City council, The Big Lake Times asked if I wouldn’t draft a letter to the Community regarding a business tax. The following is my response. My name is Greg Quinton.

Question: May a second class city, in a second class organized borough, impose a business license sheme/tax?

Answer: Apparently yes.

Context: To the best of my knowledge (and will stand correction if necessary) there is no Statute directly addressing the issue, beyond reserving the power to the State. That being said, there are cities in Alaska, imposing such a burden.

The cities that do have a licensing/tax scheme have a difficult time enforcing the scheme probably because there is no statutory authority. Lynn Kenealy, our Local Government Specialist III, observes that this is a “gray area” and that enforcing a municipal business license “is tricky.” Bill Allen, former City Manager of Palmer, corroborates Ms. Kenealy’s sentiments and flatly stated “The Business License Tax is a pain in the [keister] to enforce.” Ms. Kenealy went on to say that “many businesses ignore the tax…[unless] they must show a current BL License,” for example if the business bids on a public contract.

So, without going into a long discussion of the vice and virtue of such a scheme, I think it safe to assume, for the foreseeable future there will be no effort by the City council or Mayor to impose that burden on our business community. To enhance that assumption, I as a City Council member will not be part of any effort to tax our business community for the foreseeable future.

At some point, business extra burden on our infrastructure will likely require some approach for getting a few more dollars to offset the added expense. At such a time, a wonderful opportunity for our community to get off our collective duffs and use our best brains to accomplish an equitable approach presents itself. Any new tax on real property requires voter approval. AS 29.45.550-AS 29.45.590. Regarding a sales tax, “We The People” can again avail ourselves of the self governing opportunity and have a hand in what our Municipal Code requires. Get involved!

Greg Quinton

See this topic for related articles and discussions about the Incorporation of Big Lake.

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Op/Ed: Will the City of Big Lake impose a business license tax? | 5 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Op/Ed: Will the City of Big Lake impose a business license tax?
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, September 27 2015 @ 06:35 PM AKDT
Thank you Greg
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Op/Ed: Will the City of Big Lake impose a business license tax?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 28 2015 @ 07:24 AM AKDT
Thanks! With people like you on the council, I feel better about voting yes.
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Op/Ed: Will the City of Big Lake impose a business license tax?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 28 2015 @ 12:54 PM AKDT
Remember "No New Taxes?"

That was a hoot.
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Op/Ed: Will the City of Big Lake impose a business license tax?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 29 2015 @ 12:08 AM AKDT
Please detail the new tax you allude to. So far, in my research, I
see none proposed. Bring your proof beyond the general knowledge of tax increases. Everyone knows taxes generally increase, just as they do by our masters hand at the borough. On the local level we have power to control our tax liability both through the provisions of AS 29.45.550-590 (property tax) and through our Municipal code that's waiting for your participation. AS.29.45.700 requires voter approval for increases in sales taxes if we determine we want a sales tax.

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Op/Ed: Will the City of Big Lake impose a business license tax?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, September 30 2015 @ 01:54 PM AKDT
"May" impose a business license tax, but it looks like that would not be enforceable. Or not worth it to enforce anyway. And it's nowhere in the proposed budget.
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