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Published August 17 2012

At some Fargo stores, sales tax set too high

FARGO – Shoppers here might want to check their sales receipts a little more closely to make sure they aren’t being overcharged, even if it’s just by a few cents.

On July 1, Fargo’s sales tax dipped to 7 percent, where it will remain until the end of the year, but Fargo Auditor Steve Sprague said a few merchants reportedly lagged in making the temporary switch.

City voters approved a half-cent sales tax extension in June that’s meant to keep the city’s sales tax rate at 7.5 percent.

But because the state tax commissioner’s office needs several months’ lead time to implement a tax extension, the half-cent tax voters approved still expired June 30, Sprague said.

It will resume again on Jan. 1.

The logistics of the tax are admittedly confusing, Sprague said.

“I know people are aware the sales tax passed in June, so a lot of merchants think because it was extended the rate didn’t change, but because of the timing, it had to drop to 7 percent until January,” he said.

Sprague said he’s received three or four of calls from shoppers who reported that businesses were still charging the 7.5 percent rate.

In those cases, Sprague said he’s followed up with the businesses to inform them of the situation.

One of the Fargo stores Sprague followed up with was a McDonald’s, he said. McDonald’s management wasn’t available Friday for comment.

The Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber has received only a few questions from businesses and customers alike about the sales tax change.

“For the most part, it seems to have been seamless,” chamber President and CEO Craig Whitney said. “The state communicated in April to all the businesses, so they had plenty of time to get notice and do what they needed to do in terms of reprogramming the cash registers and all that stuff.”


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Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541