Washoe Businesses Miffed Over Tax Notification

By  | 

Some Washoe County business owners are miffed that they weren't notified by the state about a July 1 sales tax increase.

But Department of Taxation Director Chuck Chinnock said ignorance is no excuse. Besides that, he said the department lacks authority to grant businesses temporary amnesty.

Ultimately, Chinnock said, businesses are responsible for the full sales tax amount that rose to 7.375 percent, even if they didn't receive official notice from the state.

The one-eighth cent sales tax increase was approved by voters in November. It was one part of a plan to raise more than $800 million for transportation improvements.

There wasn't time between May 25 _ when lawmakers approved the increase _ and the implementation date to notify businesses directly, Chinnock said.

"We made every effort to get the information out to businesses,"he said."There were a lot of ordinances, statues and agreements being passed at the last minute and there was not a whole lot we could do to send out the information in such a short time."

But he added the information was advertised in the department's quarterly newsletter, on its Web site, and in local media.

Still, the lack of notification irks many businesses.

"Business owners would like to know why (the Department of Taxation) did not properly notify businesses in Washoe County and the State of Nevada,"said Kevin Haddock, president of Testwave LLC in Sparks, who called the state rejection of a grace period unfair.

"Business owners would like an apology and a reprieve from any penalties for not collecting the new tax rate."

The Fourth of July weekend brought increased sales for merchants and that would have been an ideal time to collect the tax, Haddock said. But of the five stores he shopped at during the weekend, only one charged the proper tax.

Donna Erickson, owner of Donna's Fashion Boutique, said she found out about the increase from one of her clerks.

"Then I went to ask other vendors and they didn't know either,"she told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

"They didn't do a good job of informing us. I called the Tax Department and they said I should have known,"she said.