Shoppers to enjoy sales tax free day


July 25, 2019

On Oct. 19 and March 2, Haines residents will be excused from paying 5.5% sales tax at local and online retail stores that choose to participate.

Last week, the assembly unanimously passed a resolution initiating two sales-tax-free days, as recommended by “By Haines,” a Haines Economic Development Corporation and chamber of commerce buy local campaign.

Haines Economic Development Corporation director Margaret Friedenauer said the dates were selected because of low tourism.

“There’s a reason we don’t have these on high-visitor weekends or event weekends,” Friedenauer said. “We really want locals to be able to take advantage of these.”

Assembly members Sean Maidy and Heather Lende endorsed the effort as an effective way to help local businesses. Lende asked the assembly if, as an owner of Lutak Lumber, she should recuse herself from a vote, but no assembly member voiced concern.

Assembly member Brenda Josephson said she felt conflicted.

“I want to support the buy local campaign, but giving a sales tax break given our financial situation, do you and the committee still feel strongly this is a good idea?”

Friedenauer said that it could be a tradeoff to the local businesses.

Sales-tax-free days are recognized in Wrangell and Petersburg.

Store owner Mike Ward, who also owns a business in Wrangell, said his profits nearly doubled on sales-tax-free day this past May.

“It gives residents the opportunity to spend money on big ticket items, it makes more money in town, and it makes people feel a bit appreciated,” he said.

Assembly member Tom Morphet asked why the committee did not select January for one of the sales-tax free days.

Friedenauer said most businesses are closed in January, and many residents are vacationing in warmer places.

“The more we continue to not schedule things in January because nobody is here, the more nobody will continue to be here in January,” Morphet said. “I’m concerned about the seasonal nature of our economy, and I’d like to see more ways to keep people here in the winter.”


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