Mayor Chris Beutler today said City Council member Cyndi Lamm's campaign news release on sales tax protocol reflects a total misunderstanding of the notification process and a lack of research. The Nebraska Department of Revenue is responsible by statute to be the sales tax administrator for the State and for cities, and Beutler said that agency has fulfilled its responsibilities for officially notifying businesses of the recent sales tax changes. Lincoln's voter-approved, three-year, quarter-cent sales tax ended October 1, but reports indicate some local businesses were still charging the extra tax after that date.
"We agree with Ms. Lamm that businesses should not have to check the media to know when to adjust the rate," Beutler said. "The fact is that the State collects all sales taxes and has several systems in place to provide notice of tax rate changes directly to these businesses." State Revenue officials said the department maintains a data base of businesses registered to collect taxes but does not have a list that would identify only those affected by the recent tax change.
Instead of pointing fingers, Mayor Beutler suggested Lamm should encourage local businesses to sign up for the Department's free subscription service at revenue.nebraska.gov (Click on the red "I" in the upper left corner). In addition to the subscription service, the Revenue Department posted the change on its website June 1 and issued a news release August 27. The department also sent letters in August to the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce, the Nebraska Retail Federation, the League of Nebraska Municipalities and federal tax organizations.
The City has continued to post information at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: sales tax) since before the sales tax vote in 2015. The website includes links to the State Revenue Department and to the subscription service.
Beutler said Lamm's contention that the City was more "aggressive" in 2015 in notifying business of the sale tax changes is false. The City issued one news release in mid-September 2015 again directing businesses to the State Revenue Department and its subscription service.
State Revenue officials said members of the public can notify the agency of any businesses still collecting the additional sales tax, and they will contact the businesses directly.