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Emilie Ritter Saunders reports:  A bill that would give a sales tax exemption to pregnancy resource clinics that don’t offer abortion services has passed the House. In a 58-12 vote, Idaho lawmakers approved Rep. Kelley Packer’s (R-McCammon) proposal.

Packer introduced the bill on behalf of Boise’sStanton Healthcare, after the organization purchased two ultrasound machines and were charged a sales tax. The organization didn’t think it should be subject to sales tax because it is a non-profit, and because it’s a health related entity, which are largely tax exempt in Idaho.

“That little amount of money to the state creates a huge concern for them,” Packer says. According to Packer, Stanton’s tax bill on the ultrasound machines was $6,000.

Rep. Grant Burgoyne (D-Boise) says the Legislature shouldn’t make policy based on one organization’s misunderstanding of the law. “We’re backing our way into a policy because someone got caught up in a mistake,” Burgoyne says.

More than one lawmaker, including Burgoyne, suggested maybe it’s time Idaho look at the sales tax policy, and perhaps broaden exemptions to include all non-profits, rather than selecting exempt entities piecemeal.

“There are many other organizations that are also worthy of an exemption,” Burgoyne added. “Clinics that deal with the mentally ill, those who deal with suicide issues, those who deal with things like Alzheimer’s and diabetes and nutrition.”

It’s unclear how much sales tax revenue Idaho stands to lose if this exemption becomes law. Rep. Packer’s bill estimates the state could lose $10,000 annually.

The tax exemption proposal now heads to the Senate for consideration.

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