Story last updated at 2:58 p.m. Thursday, December 19, 2002

Sometimes taxes necessary
Stop whining.

In response to two letters from Homer charter operators, Nov. 28, concerning tax proposals: I am a 43-year resident of Alaska and the Kenai Peninsula and was in the charter business for 15 years. Sales taxes suck, but are necessary now that our economy is in the cellar.

A sales tax on visitors is better than a state withholding tax. Most charter customers come from places of sales tax with no cap and higher percentage, and don't mind paying the tax. Customers will, however, shop to save a few bucks, so many times small home-based operators are able to "throw in" the sales tax by lumping all the clients in as one purchase and split the $27.50 maximun tax among the whole party, even when the customers never knew each other before the day of the trip.

A fair compromise might be to just raise the maximum amount taxable to $1,000 to protect local businesses from losing sales to Anchorage, and still make it possible for grandma to buy that "Family Reunion Charter" mentioned in the second letter.

The average price for a six-passenger boatload of clients in prime season hovers around $950 anyway. So the max goes to 55 bucks, grandma can still afford this if she can afford $2,500 for a day on the water.

Mostly however, charter customers book trips in groups of four or less, and big boatloads are often booked by tour companies. You don't think they are getting a cut, do you?

Sometimes, Bob, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few (and you). Maybe you can cut your price five bucks per head if you think another five bucks tax will scare away clients.

And who knows, It might be a better distribution of money throughout the community if grandma did buy microwaves for everyone instead of a fishing trip for $2,500, or dinner at Land's End even. (quoting letter #2).

Let's keep in mind also that the two charter operators who wrote in have been the two biggest proponents of IFQs for charter boats, to create their own private fishery with hopes of retiring by windfall instead of merit, denying you and your kids the opportunity to enjoy a unique business in the Alaska spirit of free enterprise.

Rich Frost

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