BOISE — The Wellness Tree in Twin Falls and nine other free medical clinics in the state could soon be exempt from paying sales tax if a bill introduced Tuesday passes.
“My assumption was a free clinic wouldn’t even pay sales tax, but that’s not the case, they do,” bill sponsor Rep. Clark Kauffman, R-Filer, told the House Revenue and Taxation Committee.
There are 10 such clinics in the state, Kauffman said. The Wellness Tree Community Clinic is the only one in the Magic Valley; five are in the Boise area, three in northern Idaho and one in Pocatello. The tax exemption would cost the state about $10,700 a year.
The Wellness Tree is funded by donations and grants, staffed by volunteers and provides medical, dental and chiropractic services to poor people who don’t have insurance. Kauffman said he got the idea for the bill after talking to the clinic’s Executive Director Arne Walker. Many health-related entities are exempt from sales tax already; Kauffman’s bill would add free clinics to the list.
“These free medical clinics bring a huge return on investment to the counties and the state, and people being treated without cost instead of going to the emergency room or other high cost to the state,” Kauffman said.
The committee voted unanimously to introduce the bill. A full hearing can now be set for a later date.