W.R.A.P. 12.09(b) Certification from the District Court of
Laramie County The Honorable Thomas T.C. Campbell, Judge
Representing Petitioner: Peter K. Michael, Attorney General;
Ryan T. Schelhaas, Deputy Attorney General; Karl D. Anderson,
Senior Assistant Attorney General; Devin T. Kenney, Assistant
Representing Respondent: Tucker Ruby, Johnson County
Attorney, Buffalo, Wyoming; Barry V. Crago, Johnson County
Civil Deputy Attorney, Buffalo, Wyoming.
DAVIS, C.J., and BURKE, [*] FOX, and KAUTZ, JJ., and PEASLEY,
PEASLEY, DISTRICT JUDGE.
Johnson County, through the Johnson County Fair Board,
provides sixty-nine (69) camp spots at the Johnson County
Fairgrounds for use during the annual Johnson County Fair and
Rodeo. For each campsite, the County charges $25.00 per week
and does not collect any sales or lodging taxes. The
Department of Revenue (Department) determined the use of
these campsites was subject to sales and lodging taxation,
and the Board of Equalization (Board) reversed. The Board
determined the campsites and rent received therefrom were not
subject to taxation because the Fair Board was not a
"vendor" as defined by Wyo. Stat. Ann. §
39-15-101(a)(xv). The Department appealed this decision to
the district court, and we accepted certification of the
appeal from the district court. We will affirm.
We address the following issue: Did the Board of Equalization
commit error by finding that the Johnson County Fair Board
charging rent for campsites during the Johnson County Fair
and Rodeo was not a taxable event?
BACKGROUND AND PROCEEDINGS
Johnson County has sixty-nine (69) campsite locations that
are used by the Johnson County Fairgrounds. The Fair Board
rents these campsites annually and charges campers $25.00 for
use during the week of fair. These campsites have
historically been made available to fair exhibitors or their
families. In 2016, the Johnson County Tourism Association
inquired of the Department whether lodging taxes must be
collected for the use and rental of these campsites. In
response, the Department issued a determination finding the
Fair Board was a non-exempt lodging vendor required to obtain
a Wyoming Sales/Use Tax License and statutorily obligated to
collect and remit sales and lodging taxes for the campsite
rentals. The Department assessed the County $113.75 for the
uncollected taxes in 2016, representing the unpaid taxes for
the week-long use of the sixty-five (65) campsites.
On appeal, the Board analyzed: (1) whether the camping fee
was a user fee for county-owned recreational facilities and
therefore exempt from excise taxes, and (2) whether the
Department met its burden of proof to show that the Fair
Board qualified as a vendor, as defined by Wyo. Stat. Ann.
§ 39-15-101(a)(xv), and thereby obligated to impose a
tax on campsite users under Wyo. Stat. Ann. §
39-15-103(c). The Board concluded the Fair Board was not
exempt from imposing sales and lodging taxes under Wyo. Stat.
Ann. § 39-15-105(a)(iv)(E), but that the Fair Board was
not a vendor. Because the Department failed to meet its
burden of proof to show the Fair Board was a vendor, the
Board concluded that the Fair Board was not obligated to
impose a tax on the fees charged for the use of the
Wyoming law imposes a sales tax on the "sales price paid
for living quarters in hotels, motels, tourist courts and
similar establishments providing lodging service for
transient guests," unless a statutory exemption applies.
Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 39-15-103(a)(i)(G) (LexisNexis 2015).
We have long recognized that "[t]here is a presumption
created against granting exceptions and in favor of
taxation." State Board of Equalization v. Tenneco
Oil Co., 694 P.2d 97, 100 (Wyo. 1985). Accordingly, the
burden of establishing an exemption is on the one claiming
it. PacifiCorp, Inc. v. Dep't of Revenue, State,
2017 WY 106, ¶ 11, 401 P.3d 905, 909 (Wyo. 2017) (citing
Commissioners of Cambria Park v. Board of County
Comm'rs of Weston County, 62 Wyo. 446, 174 P.2d 402,
However, in proceedings involving the question of whether
there is a taxable event that triggers the obligation to
impose a tax "the Petitioner shall have the burden of
going forward and the Department shall have the ultimate
burden of ...