FORT MILL, S.C. – Teresa Kauppinen said she tries to save as much money as she can by using coupons and looking out for ads and sales. But she was amazed when she found out that she might be losing money every time she shops because some retailers are charging her too much in sales tax.
“I had no idea if you hadn’t said anything and seriously I spend over $200 a week,” said Kauppinen, a married mother of four children.
In January, stores located in York County were no longer allowed to continue collecting sales tax on hundreds of food items that are now classified as “exempt.” The South Carolina Department of Revenue lists foods that a person can purchase to take home to eat—items such as snacks and salads and sandwiches.
But when NewsChannel 36 checked at least three stores in York County, we found out they were still charging that one percent sales tax.
“I didn’t know about it and that’s stealing. That’s not right,” said Kauppinen. “If they know and they’re still doing it, then it’s just wrong it’s not good.”
Both Lowes Foods and Harris Teeter still charge customers while BI-LO said that it stopped charging for those exempt food items.
Lowes Foods said it only has one store in York County and plans to rectify the problem immediately. Harris Teeter is also looking at how to handle the issues.
The South Carolina Department of Revenue said, “Retailers in York County may be charging the one percent tax because they are unaware of those items that are exempt. The Capital Projects Tax was re-implemented in January 2012 after it expired in 2011 and since its reimplementation these new food items are exempt.
“The retailer is responsible for reimbursing the purchaser of the tax that may have been mistakenly implemented and paid. You may refer to code section 12-54-196 which refers to the collection of excessive tax by retailer.”