LETTER: Things to look at before tax increases

Published 5:14 pm Saturday, November 11, 2017

I own and operate an indoor flea and antique mall in Selma. I do recognize the need for revenue to pay for fire, police, streets, etc. and as a retail business, it is our responsibility to collect and remit the various sales taxes. And so we do. Every month.

Recently, the Selma City Government has indicated that it wishes to increase the sales tax rate to the highest rate allowed under the laws of Alabama.

However, before that happens there are two things that need to be accomplished first. First, the forensic audit that was started and abandoned needs to be completed. The tax money that has already been remitted need to be accounted for. The citizens need to be assured of the facts.

Second, the taxing authorities need to enforce compliance with the existing tax laws before further burdening those of us who actually follow the law. In our store when we ring up sales, the customer often exclaims, “Oh, Y’all charge tax?” That is telling me that many places they shop are not.

At an outdoor flea market, I understand that if you rent a booth a few times a year to sell some surplus household goods that are considered as a yard sale. But if you rent a storage shed and sell new or used items every week of the year, that is a business and sales tax should be collected and remitted.

The remitting part is also important. I suspect that all too often taxes are collected by retailers and not remitted as there is very little reconciliation of those figures by authorities.

All this and I haven’t even touched on the numerous businesses being run out of households in Selma. Or the change from the state collection to private. I understand the private collection has no audit enforcement as the state does. That should be examined.

So, what is needed is for the rest of you to become outraged. Hostile to the idea of imposing higher taxes on us before explaining where the money goes and collecting the tax that is already owed.

John T. (Tommy) Carter