Call Kurtis Investigates: Stores Overcharging Customers After Sales Tax Hike
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CBS13 went undercover and caught area stores overtaxing customers.
We call on Kurtis Ming with the confusion surrounding this week’s sales tax increase in Sacramento.
Sales tax just jumped Monday to 8.5 percent in the city of Sacramento.
But we’ve learned some stores in Sacramento County incorrectly raised the sales tax.
“Savings made simple,” said Armand Bakalian, Sacramento County resident.
Seeing impaired, Armand, uses this device to read every receipt after going shopping.
“It translates the print into a textile image,” said Armand.
And he realized both Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart located in Arden-Arcade, wrongly charged him this week 8.5 percent sales tax.
“OK, these people don’t realize they’re not in the city of Sacramento,” said Armand.
The voter approved city sales tax jumped April 1st from 8 percent to 8.5 percent.
But the Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club are actually in the unincorporated county where sales tax is still 8 percent.
“It comes down to around 16 cents. Big deal. But, who’s getting this money?”
We sent our hidden cameras into both stores.
By the time we got there, they fixed the sales tax blunder.
“To be honest, I wouldn’t have even looked at it,” said Denise Rutherford, Sacramento County resident.
“Sam’s Club should know better,” said Joe Thompson, Sacramento County resident.
We decided to check a few other stores technically in the county, stopping by this CVS on Arden Way.
Sure enough, we were charged the higher 8.5 percent.
Same thing happened next door at this Safeway where the manager claimed even if the store is located in the county, they must charge the higher tax based on the zip code.
The State Board of Equalization tells us that’s not true. The physical address is used to determine the proper sales tax rate. And if incorrectly charging the higher tax…. “owes the consumer a refund for the overcharged amount, or, if not able to refund, must pay the BOE.”
But Armand thinks no one, but him should get the money he overpaid.
“It belongs back in our pockets,” said Armand.
Armand is a Call Kurtis volunteer.
We reached out to each of the stores.
CVS, Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club and Safeway have each acknowledged the mistake and say it’s since been fixed.
Customers can return for a refund.
Board of Equalization Statement
The California State Board of Equalization (BOE) works for, and with, all Californians. When someone notifies the BOE about a retailer charging an incorrect sales tax rate, the BOE follows-up with the retailer to ensure the proper sales tax rate is being charged.
The BOE does not use zip codes to determine the proper sales tax rate at a given location. A zip code may include a city and portions of the county outside of city limits. Therefore, the physical address is used to determine the proper sales tax rate. The two stores you have indicated are located outside the City of Sacramento. BOE staff has contacted management of both stores today.
To check if an address is in the City of Sacramento, please see the Sacramento County Assessor Parcel Viewer, which is searchable by property address.
Anyone who believes the sales tax rate is being incorrectly charged should contact the BOE at 1-800-400-7115.
If a retailer in Sacramento collects the sales and use tax at the lower tax rate after April 1, 2013, the retailer will still owe the .50 percent increase. If a retailer in an unincorporated area of Sacramento County collects the sales and use tax at a higher rate after April 1, 2013, the retailer owes the consumer a refund for the overcharged amount, or, if not able to refund, must pay the BOE. The retailer cannot keep an over collection. When notified, BOE staff will contact the retailer who is overcharging or undercharging.
Please see the April 1, 2013 sales and use tax rates.
CVS/pharmacy is committed to providing the very best in service to our customers. For a brief period of time the tax rate at the CVS/pharmacy store located at 3338 Arden Way was inadvertently raised from 8 percent to 8.5 percent when the new tax rate took effect on 4/1/13. As of today, we have corrected this issue and will address at the store any customers that were inconvenienced upon request.
–Danielle Marcus, CVS/pharmacy Spokesperson
Wal-Mart & Sam’s Club Statement
We apologize to our customers for any inconvenience this may have caused. It is never our intention to overcharge sales tax.
While updating our system with the new sales tax rate for Sacramento, we incorrectly applied it to some locations immediately outside of the city. All stores have been updated and are currently charging the correct tax rate.
If a customer believes they were mischarged sales tax, they may receive a refund on the overcharged tax amount with proof of purchase.
It is important to note that all taxes collected are paid directly to the appropriate government taxing bodies.
– Ashley Hardie, Wal-Mart Spokesperson
Safeway sincerely apologizes for the inconvenience. We have taken corrective action to address this matter. This was isolated to one store — our 3320 Arden Way location in Sacramento. Customers who may have been charged at the half percent higher sales tax rate for the two and a half day period can go to customer service at the store for a refund. We are posting signs at the store alerting customers to the discrepancy.
We appreciate CBS 13 calling this to our attention.
– Wendy Gutshall, Safeway Spokesperson