Illegal Tax?

By: Amy Morris
By: Amy Morris

A Bay County attorney says some stores could be taking advantage of customers by tacking on a little extra to your bill. He's ready to fight it out in court, but a little known law from more than 40 years ago could keep the case on the sidelines.

Most of people don't even look at them, but the receipts from some local stores show a tax over and above those levied by the State and the County. Currently in the state of Florida you will pay six cents tax on every dollar, come inside Bay County and limits go up by half-a-cent.

A customer wanted to know why her Target receipt showed a line stating the tax on her purchases is 7.565 percent, but it's not the only one. Another area shopper found her JC Penney's receipt with a similar charge of7.57 percent sales tax. The customers joined forces with a local attorney to file a class action lawsuit against both companies hoping to find out why there's a one percent increase at those stores.

"It's probably the way they are passing on their occupational license fee, and that is not a tax on the consumer it's a tax on there merchant," says attorney Tom Adams.

As it turns out that's exactly what Target, JC Penney's and every other store in Panama City and Panama City Beach do. They are allowed to by law.

The license fee was put into place in 1963, and according to the Florida Department of Revenue merchants can pass on the cost as a one percent sales tax. The state outlawed the tax in Florida cities, but grandfathered in some of those areas that already had it in place including Panama City and the beach.


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