BOISE -- Idahoans pay $4 million in sales tax on prescription glasses and contact lenses, something optometrists call unfair because other medical devices aren't hit with a surcharge.
It's more than just a fairness fight, however.
The House Revenue and Taxation Committee's move Friday to consider a new tax exemption could re-invigorate debate over whether Idaho should expand these lucrative, industry-specific breaks that already number in the dozens -- and sap some $1.8 billion in potential annual revenue from the state's coffers.
Kris Ellis, an Idaho Optometric Physician lobbyist, suggested eyewear should get the same treatment afforded other prescription medical products.
But her bill reduces state revenue by millions.
In recent years, Idaho senators, in particular, have been reluctant to expand breaks, arguing exemptions should be dumped and the tax base broadened.