Senior exemptions for local sales taxes

These Alaska boroughs, cities offer a break

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

So wrote Ben Franklin to a colleague in 1789. Franklin was 83 at the time. Had he lived in some Alaskan communities a couple hundred years later, some taxes would not have been so “certain,” as many give seniors a break by exempting them from having to pay certain sales taxes.

The information in this article regarding senior exemptions for local sales taxes in selected Alaska locations is summarized and may lack certain important details. Contacts have been provided for complete and up-to-date information. Contact any unlisted towns, villages and boroughs to inquire about possible senior exemptions.


Seniors over the age of 65 years old and residing in Bethel may be issued an exemption card by the City of Bethel. The initial exemption card provides sales tax relief on the purchase of food, rent and utilities. The use of an exemption card is for food intended for consumption by the senior, his or her spouse or same sex partner living in the same household, or the un-emancipated minor children of either the senior or his or her spouse or same sex partner, who live in the same household.

The application for senior citizen exemption is available at the Finance Office in Bethel City Hall. A senior may identify up to two proxy shoppers at the time of application if the senior is physically unable to use the card.

More information is available at, then select “Sales Tax Division,” or call the Division at 907-543-2047 ext 231.


Anyone age 65 or older who is a resident of the state of Alaska may apply for and be issued a senior citizen’s sales tax exemption card subject to certain conditions. As used in this section, “resident of the state of Alaska” means a person who is eligible or would have been eligible for the Alaska State Permanent Fund Dividend for that same year or for the immediately preceding year. If a person is physically unable to leave their home

or dwelling to use the card, the city may issue a special card authorizing another person to use the card for the senior’s benefit.

For more information, see, click on “Municipal Code,” see “Title 3, Revenue and Finance,” then click on Chapter 3.08 “Sales Tax,” or call the City Clerk at 907-826-3275.

City and Borough of Juneau

To obtain a Senior Citizen Exemption Card you must complete the Application for Sales Tax Exemption Card and bring it to the City and Borough of Juneau’s Sales Tax Office. Additional documentation and an application fee are also required. Food and utilities will be tax exempt for senior citizens who present a valid CBJ exemption card.

The spouses of card holders will be issued their own card. If a person with a senior citizen sales tax exemption card is physically unable to use the card, the sales tax office has a program that allows a designated person to use the card for the benefit of the card recipient.

There is also a Senior Citizen Needs-Based Sales Tax Rebate program which offers eligible seniors a once-a-year rebate of sales taxes paid at the time of purchase. To be eligible, a senior must have resided in Juneau for at least 30 days, possess a current CBJ Senior Sales Tax Exemption Card, and meet the current annual income requirements.

For more information, see, or call the Sales Tax Office at (907) 586-5265.


Any person 65 years of age or older who is eligible to receive a PFD, or would be eligible if they applied, and who has been a bona fide resident of the Ketchikan Gateway Borough for not less than 180 days, may be eligible for a sales tax exemption card. Sales tax exemption benefits for the eligible person include no sales taxes on purchases for personal use by the eligible person and/or their spouse. Exempt purchases include groceries, gasoline, utilities, residential rent, retail services and more.

A person who is eligible for an exemption card and who is physically or mentally unable to use their card can apply for an authorized person or entity to use the card on their behalf.

For more information, see, or call the Senior Tax Exemptions Office at 907-228-6609.


Any qualifying senior citizen who has obtained a borough-issued exemption card may be exempt from paying sales tax. The senior must be 65 years or older and have resided in Petersburg for at least one year immediately prior to applying, and intend to live there indefinitely. The senior must have been present a minimum of 185 days in Petersburg during the past year. The senior exemption is not for any purchases or services meant for trade or business.

An application for the senior exemption card is available online at, click on “Departments,” then “Finance Department,” then “Sales Tax...” Look for the form: “2019 Senior Tax Exemption Application,” or call 907-772-5406.

City and Borough of Sitka

Any person 65 years of age or older who is a resident of the state of Alaska may apply for and be issued a senior citizen sales tax exemption certificate by the finance director. This certificate entitles the person, person’s spouse, or the person’s qualified domestic partner to be exempt from sales tax for the purchase of goods, services or rentals which are solely for personal use by the person, person’s spouse, or the person’s qualified domestic partner.

Call or email the Sitka Sales Tax Division for a Senior Citizen Exemption Application Checklist at; phone 907-747-1840 or 747-1853.


People at least 65 years of age are entitled to receive a yearly sales tax refund in the amount of $200. To be eligible for the refund, the consumer must be 65 or older by March 31 of each year, be a resident of the city for at least 30 days prior to their application, and file a timely application for refund with the City Clerk. An application for a senior citizen refund must be filed with the city between Jan. 1 and March 31 of each year.

For more information, visit or call the City Clerk’s Office at 581-1251.

Author Bio

Lawrence D. Weiss is a UAA Professor of Public Health, Emeritus, creator of the UAA Master of Public Health program, and author of several books and numerous articles.