Green River Star -

By Lillian Palmer
Staff Writer 

Centers fight to keep meals tax-exempt

 


Senior centers have provided affordable meals, tax-free, for a long time.

These meals cater to seniors and their guests. Soon though, Golden Hour Senior Center and other Wyoming senior centers may have to start charging tax on their meals to the nonseniors that purchase a meal at the center.

According to Golden Hour’s executive director Sheela Schermetzler, the meal-tax issue started when a restaurant owner in Elk Mountain witnessed workers enter the senior center near the restaurant owner’s place of business.

The question now has been raised to whether meals served at senior centers should be taxed. To keep senior center’s meals the way they are as of now, a bill is being drafted to state that sales tax would be exempt in senior centers for seniors and their guests.

When finished, the bill will be presented during the state’s next legislative session.

“I don’t think it will have much problem,” Representative John Freeman said. “Each center will probably come up with some rules. I anticipate great support for it.”

In a statement from the Wyoming Association of Senior Project Directors, “senior centers’ target audience is not the general public, but does include: seniors, guests of seniors, potential eligible clients and/or family members of potential eligible clients, and homebound clients.”

To help nullify objections, Wyoming senior centers and the Department of Revenue have proposed a language change in the statute dictating who senior centers may serve meals to tax exempt. The current statute reads “…sales of meals to (persons)...” The proposed change will say “…sales of meals made to senior citizens, their guests and meals delivered to the homebound…”

“The language will help, but it still won’t eliminate the need for a tax,” Schermetzler said. “I think they’re going to make us tax.”

The potential statewide tax that could be collected from a new meal sales tax at Wyoming senior centers could be up to $5,890.34.

That is 16,386 meals served to non seniors, or senior’s guests. If a tax on meal sales does come to pass at Wyoming senior centers, Wyoming would be the only state in the country to require senior centers to charge a sales tax on guest meals.

 

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