sales tax

Shelley Simonton

With the economic downturn, sales tax income has plummeted and local government finds itself in a world of financial hurt. Hiring freezes, layoffs, decisions not to move forward with road repairs, and the reduction of other services have either been approved or contemplated across the state.

Recently the Wyoming Association of Municipalities, or WAM, urged the legislature’s revenue committee to consider ways to allow communities to generate more revenue. Bob Beck asked WAM Executive Director Shelley Simonton how dire the situation is.

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The legislature’s joint revenue committee wrapped up two days of discussions on possible tax increases to deal with Wyoming’s declining revenue picture. 

The committee looked at everything from increasing property taxes to pay for an education shortfall to letting communities add a sales tax on food. But at the end of the two days, the committee only agreed to draft two bills, both dealing with increasing the wind tax.

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

A Wyoming legislative committee is looking into ways to help cities, towns, and counties raise more money, but a localized food tax failed to gain support Thursday.

State Senator Ogden Driskill of Devils Tower said the state will likely not be able to keep providing money for local government at the rate it has in the past. Lawmakers approved 105 million dollars for local entities for the next two years, a decrease of 78 million from the previous two years. 

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Thanks to dropping energy prices, Wyoming’s sales tax collections are down 75 million dollars compared to the same time last year. 

The State Economic Analysis Division says after the first six months of the fiscal year, sales and use tax collections have declined by 17 percent compared to the same time period last year. Economist Jim Robinson says it’s been awhile since Wyoming has seen such a downturn.

You know you probably have to go back to the recession of 2008 to see numbers we are looking at right now I think.”

Senator Mike Enzi is part of an effort to allow states to collect sales taxes from out of state on-line merchants.  The Wyoming Administrator of the Excise Tax Division Dan Noble says the state supports this.  Noble says some companies voluntarily collect the tax, but many do not.

“But there are a lot of vendors that do not have a physical presence in the state that are not collecting our tax and I think one of the biggest ones is Amazon.”

He says changing that would put Wyoming merchants on a level playing field with out of state businesses. 

The Mayor of Cody says residents in her community can expect to see budget cuts and a reduction of services following the failure of a one-percent sales tax which was intended to address infrastructure needs of Park County. 

Mayor Nancy Tia Brown says her community will see some changes: “It was a time for the Cody voters or the county voters to let us know if they wanted to continue things as they were or make adjustments.  And we are going to have to make some adjustments.”

Voters OK Fremont County sales tax

Nov 7, 2012

Fremont County will have more money to fix roads, now that voters have approved a 1-percent sales tax.

County Commission Chairman Doug Thompson says the state transportation funding hasn’t been adequate to properly maintain the county’s transportation infrastructure.

“There’s bridges that are starting to fall into disrepair,” Thompson said. “We have huge backlogs of road maintenance. … So this will allow us to do some maintenance projects that will keep us from having to rebuild the roads later on.”