A sales tax of one percent means buyers pay a penny on the dollar, a dime on $10 and a whole dollar on $100. Is that enough to make customers shop elsewhere? Does such a tax confer an unfair disadvantage on a retailers? Perhaps. Walmart seems to think so, or perhaps the Bentonvile Behemoth is simply standing on principle.
A sales and use tax dispute in a portion of Fountain that includes a newly opened Wal-Mart store could be headed to a lawsuit. The disagreement between the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority, Wal-Mart and the developer of a retail center on the southern edge of Colorado Springs, stems from the PPRTA board's request to collect tax revenue generated there. In January 2014 a 432.5-area section of land, which includes the approximately 99-acre South Academy Highlands retail center, was annexed by Fountain. It was previously part of unincorporated El Paso County. Thirteen months later, the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority, which collects a 1 percent sales and use tax inside its district boundaries for transportation and transit projects, requested that the annexed land fall under its authority and be subject to the tax. The PPRTA argued the land remains in the authority's jurisdiction, even if it is annexed by a non-member government. Colorado Springs, El Paso County, Manitou Springs, Green Mountain Falls and Ramah make up the PPRTA. The new 150,000-square-foot Wal-Mart store is part of the retail center, northwest of Interstate 25 and South Academy Boulevard, being built by UTW Academy Development of St. Louis. A Sam's Club is planned to open in the center in early August. "Currently, no patron of any business in Fountain is subject to the 1 percent PPRTA tax," Anne Hatfield, a Walmart spokesperson, wrote in an email. "Wal-mart and Sam's Club believe strongly that our Fountain customers should be treated the same way." But customers at the Wal-Mart are paying the additional PPRTA tax in the meantime, said Don Yucuis, finance director for the city. That would change, he said, if the PPRTA were to lose the disagreement.
In an April 2011 study the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education reported that:
Using Walmart's figures on U.S. sales and customers, we find that the average customer spends $43.95 per shopping trip, and makes 27 shopping trips per year, spending $1,187 annually at the store.
While the actual figure may be marginally higher allowing for inflation, I do not think asking the average customer, who might very well also be a regular customer of the transportation services of the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority, to pay an additional $12 or so a year ($1 per month) is outrageous, or even onerous. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.Walmart, Wal-Mart

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