In August 2020, a request for information was sent to the Mena Advertising and Promotions Commission requesting the names of businesses who had failed to pay the tourism tax to the city.
Uncertain whether the information was considered public, the AP commission responded to the information request that an Attorney General’s opinion would be sought.
After struggling with a few businesses to remit taxes, the commission expressed the need to have “some teeth” in the ordinance that allows for the collection of the tax. Read the August 2020 here.
The Attorney General delivered the opinion last week and wrote, “The fact that a business failed to remit advertising and promotion taxes is not a matter protected from disclosure under the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act).”
The opinion said the city must provide the names of businesses that have not remitted advertising and promotion taxes under Ark. Code Ann. 26-75-601 et seq. or 26-75-701 et seq. in response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act of 1967.
The opinion also explained that information may be published by the city, even if the release of that information is not related to a request for public information.
Information about a business that had not remitted the tax to the city was published in the Pulse in August 2020. Printing the information resulted in the owner being made aware of the issue and remitting the owed taxes in full. Read the follow up story here.
The Pulse request for the list of business who have not paid their taxes has not yet been delivered, however, business owners who are required to remit tourism tax to the city may need to be aware the information is considered public by the Attorney General.
It is not our desire to harm businesses who are in the tourism industry by any future publication of failure to remit taxes. We understand small business owners and have no need to embarrass anyone for being late on paying tourism taxes. However, it is unjust for some to pay while others do not. Considering the issues in the past that have occurred with a few businesses and the Attorney General’s opinion, the names of business who repeatedly fail to remit tourism taxes to the city or notify the AP of issues in being able to pay taxes, may be published.