Idaho News

A news station asked an Idaho city for public records. The city charged it sales tax

The top of the city of Pocatello's records request form, available through its website.
The top of the city of Pocatello's records request form, available through its website.

A Utah radio station is taking issue with an Idaho city for charging it sales tax on a public records request.

When a KUER newsroom assistant asked Pocatello police for records on calls for service, the city charged the station $145.80 for the time spent to complete the effort and for copying costs. The city then added a 6 percent sales tax of $8.75 to KUER's bill, according to a May 25 KUER news report.

KUER is a nonprofit National Public Radio affiliate that broadcasts from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

KUER contacted the Idaho State Tax Commission to find out if taxing public records is allowed. It is — but maybe not for much longer.

“The Idaho State Tax Commission wants to thank you for bringing the issue of sales tax and public records request copies to our attention. It prompted us to evaluate the Idaho statutes,” spokeswoman Renee Eymann told the radio station. “The Tax Commission intends to bring legislation next year to clarify in the code that public records aren’t subject to sales tax in the interest of openness and transparency in government.”

Until a change is introduced, though, existing state law will stay open to interpretation, Eymann said.

Cynthia Sewell is Idaho Statesman's government and investigative reporter. Contact her at (208) 377-6428, csewell@idahostatesman.com or @CynthiaSewell on Twitter.
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