Grocer collected tax on non-taxable items

TAMPA, Fla. - Most general groceries are not taxable, but after receiving an email from a viewer, we found a local convenience store charge tax on everything we brought to the register.  Over, and over again.

We made three trips to Cypress Food in Tampa, all within a week.  For the most part, we purchased non-taxable items, like beans, yellow rice, and muffin mix.

The cash register went three-for-three, charging us tax on every grocery staple, even though the only taxable items on our list were a pack of M&Ms and a bottle of Gatorade.

One customer told us he brought it up to the cashier, who refused to remove the tax.  Others told us Cypress Food isn't the only store charging tax where there should be none.
    
Armed with our three tax-bearing receipts, I returned to Cypress Food on Friday to ask why they taxed all of our groceries.

I spoke with the owners, Jeff and Kay Patel, and while they did not want to go on camera, they did say they just bought the business four months ago, and really had no idea which items were taxable.

They did say they would correct the oversight.

We reported our findings with the Department of Revenue.  In an email, they responded, "... the call will be referred to the appropriate local office for follow-up with the business to bring them into compliance."

More often than not, the agency finds what happened turned out to be an oversight and once warned the store quickly falls into compliance.

Now if this has happened to you, consumers can call The Department of Revenue at 800-352-3671, and the call will be referred to the appropriate local office for follow-up with the business to bring them into compliance.  

Consumers can also call the local office in their area which can be found at the contacts link on the website at http://dor.myflorida.com/dor/taxes/servicecenters.html .

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