A proposed class action claims a group of retailers including Walmart and Home Depot unlawfully charged sales tax on protective face masks in Pennsylvania.
Echoing a case filed last month against 15 other retailers, the lawsuit out of Pennsylvania state court argues that protective face masks and coverings sold at retail were specifically exempted from state sales tax during the emergency disaster declaration issued by Governor Tom Wolf in early March 2020—a fact recently confirmed by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue. According to the case, the department on October 30, 2020 provided the following:
“[F]ace masks (cloth and disposable) are exempt from Pennsylvania sales tax. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, masks sold at retail were typically subject to Pennsylvania sales tax. However, masks (both cloth and disposable) could now be considered everyday wear/clothing as they are part of the normal attire. Generally speaking, clothing is not subject to Pennsylvania sales tax. Check the Retailer’s Information Guide (REV-717) for a list of exceptions.”
Nevertheless, the defendants—which include Big Lots, Inc.; Dollar General Corporation; Giant Eagle, Inc.; Jo-Ann Stores, LLC; Ollie’s Bargain Outlet Holdings, Inc.; The Home Depot, Inc.; Tuesday Morning Corporation; Ulta Beauty, Inc.; and Walmart Inc.—have charged or continue to charge sales tax on face masks sold in store or online in Pennsylvania, the suit argues. The seven plaintiffs claim they paid a six- to seven-percent sales tax on masks purchased from the defendant retailers, who should have been well aware that such items were not subject to state tax.
“Defendants knew or should have known that it was impermissible to charge or collect Pennsylvania sales tax on protective face masks following Governor Wolf’s emergency declaration on March 6, 2020,” the complaint reads.
The lawsuit alleges violations of Pennsylvania’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law.
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