Walmart’s Sales Tax Mistake

Last week we told you about tech giant Apple’s problems when it came to sales tax and zip codes. While that’s a common area for error, Walmart has brought to light yet another area that tends to get retailers into trouble—exemptions. When we think about exemptions in sales tax we typically think about companies who are exempt, not specific products. In this case, Walmart made a clerical error that resulted in a big PR mess because of an exemption that hits home in Connecticut. In Connecticut, gun safety is a priority, especially since the Sandy Hook shooting that shook the state in 2012.

Nearly 15 years ago, Connecticut legislators made a sales tax exemption for gun safes and gun locks that excludes these items from sales tax to help promote their purchase to increase gun safety. Unfortunately for Walmart, an error in their system resulted in sales tax being tacked onto transactions for select gun safes and gun locks, or so one customer reports. The Connecticut Post has been after Walmart with acerbic reporting that doesn’t plan on letting Walmart off the hook for their mistake. Had the issue related to anything other than gun safety, it probably wouldn’t be such big news. Connecticut Post reporters have approached store clerks at Walmart, Dick’s, and other similar stores that carry gun safety equipment about sales tax. They found that most clerks don’t know gun safety equipment is exempt—but this shouldn’t be a big surprise.

Clerks aren’t sales tax professionals. Clerks rely on point of sale technology to complete transactions, not personal knowledge. It’s impossible for a major retailer to rely on sales clerks to be sales tax experts, and there’s no reason they should be able to do so. While Walmart should correct the error and has plans in place to do so, the Connecticut Post’s attacks surrounding the issue are making many readers’ blood boil. The emotions surrounding the issue have made it into something much bigger than a run of the mill sales tax error.

At SalesTaxDataLINK, we believe that sales taxes are important enough that sales tax errors shouldn’t be run of the mill. When you really care about accuracy, you can rely on our special combination of features to give you results you can be proud of — and help you avoid embarrassing situations like the ones that have affected some of the largest companies in the world. Just sign up for a free evaluation today.

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