SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Some South Charleston businesses are incorrectly applying a 0.5 percent sales tax to purchases, Mayor Frank Mullens said during a City Council meeting Thursday.
Mullens believes the problem originated with the U.S. Postal Service.
What began as an identity issue -- with incoming mail listing South Charleston residents as living in Charleston -- has "been taken to a different level" since Charleston's new sales tax increase went into effect, Mullens said.
Charleston's tax increase went into effect Oct. 1.
"The mom and pop, local businesses aren't charging the tax that I know of," he said. "It's the national corporation headquarters that see Charleston listed on the business address that are charging the Charleston tax."
Residents are passionate about this tax going to Charleston, said City Treasurer Hanna Pettitt.
"They tell me that the city of Charleston doesn't clean their streets or patrol their neighborhoods, and they don't want them to get the tax," she said.
It was reported that Lowe's and Dollar Tree in South Charleston had corrected the problem, but, according to Mullens, Target is still charging the tax.
"We are diligently fighting this problem," Mullens said.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., are "working on the issue" and are scheduled to discuss it again on Monday, Mullens said.
He also reported that West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and acting state Tax Commissioner Mark W. Matkovich are also involved.
"People who have been incorrectly charged a sales tax are due a refund," Mullens said. "It's just pennies on a single purchase, but it adds up."
Currently there is no plan in place to get refunds to consumers.
In a related issue, all customers of West Virginia American Water Company are routinely charged a tax. Mullens is investigating where that fee goes when South Charleston residents are erroneously listed as living in Charleston.
A representative of the water company is meeting with city officials tomorrow.