Difference in sales tax rates across Whitfield County causing concern
Shoppers in Whitfield County say the sales tax at some businesses is not up to date. Residents say those businesses are collecting more than they should.
For the past four years, Whitfield County residents have been paying for a 2015 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST). It raised the county's sales tax by 1%, which brought the total sales tax to 7%.
The SPLOST expired on June 30.
On July 1, the sales tax was supposed to drop down to 6%, but shoppers say some businesses have not acknowledged the change.
After a quick trip to the grocery store, Doug Krinke admits he wasn't concerned about the sales tax on his receipt.
“I guess a large purchase you'd notice it; a car or something like that,” Krinke said. “I don't think you're gonna notice it with this.”
It's not clear why some businesses have not changed their tax rate. Businesses are required to collect and remit sales tax to the Georgia Department of Revenue. William Gaston, spokesperson for the department, says they send electronic notifications and posts on their website a month before tax changes go into effect.
But Gaston explained it is not illegal.
“If a business collects 7% and only remits 6% to the Department of Revenue, they have committed a crime. If they remit the full tax collected (even if it is the incorrect amount), they have not committed a crime,” he explained.
We reached out to Senator Chuck Payne for comment. He said, "across the state there are probably people doing this, but there is no way to verify how much they've collected until the end of the year." Payne plans to bring up the issue during a committee meeting. He says he hopes to fins a way to better alert businesses about tax changes.
While there's no way for the state to verify a business’s earnings until the end of the year, customers can request a sales and use tax refund claim by using this. To access the form, click here.