Grant County sales tax expired 3 months ago, but the government continued to collect

The Grant County Courthouse is located in Medford, Oklahoma. Voters across the country recently approved a sales tax extension of $ 0.01 to fund public safety services. (Wikimedia Commons)

After making a purchase at a Grant County business this spring, Cindy Bobbitt noticed a charge she hadn’t expected.

“We’re farmers, and we do business and bill and get our bills monthly and pay them, and I’m one of those people looking at my bills,” she said. “I was going through my receipts and noticed (the) sales tax.”

Bobbitt was surprised because a 1% Grant County sales tax reflected on his receipt – which voters initially passed in 2011 to help fund the county’s police and fire operations – expired on April 30 and, due to a number of delays in setting up an election date, had not yet been renewed.

Former Grant County Commissioner, Bobbitt interviewed the owner of the business.

“He called the Oklahoma Tax Commission,” she recalls, “and I don’t know who he spoke to, but he said they said to him, ‘Yeah, go ahead and get it- the. It’s too much work to change it, and they’ll go ahead and get it done in two months.

It is true that the tax was finally renewed on July 13 – by an overwhelming range of 616 to 43 – and will take effect on August 1 for another 10-year period. But for Bobbitt and others, the gap between expiration and renewal has raised a number of serious questions.

Bobbitt, who stepped down in December, said she strongly supports the sales tax renewal because county public safety departments need the money, but she does not understand the lack of clarity regarding the election schedule and why the deadlines were not met in the first place.

“Someone has to be responsible for making sure we follow the law, the rules and the regulations,” she said. “It’s unfortunate that the deadline has been missed, but if three months is good, why not go for a year or 10 years and say, ‘Oh, it’s okay, so why do we even have to vote for that?’ “

“We had some hiccups in preparing for the elections”

A tank sits outside the Grant County Courthouse in Medford, Oklahoma. (Very Wild)

Grant County lies along Oklahoma’s northern border with Kansas. Its largest towns include Medford, Pond Creek and Wakita, made famous for its tower as the backdrop of the The 1990s movie Twister. The county has a population of around 5,000 and its main industry is agriculture.

According to records from Grant County Commissioners, the three-person body looked into the issue of setting an election date to renew sales tax during its February 16 meeting. The measure failed to make the April ballot because the wording of the proposal was too long and had to be rewritten for lack of a deadline, the county commissioner said. Max Hess told Enid News and Eagle.

The election was then set for May 11, but that date was later canceled because Grant County Clerk Cindy Pratt did not announce the election for the required 30 days.

Pratt could not be reached by phone at her office number and did not respond to an email from NonDoc seeking comment on the delay.

Ultimately, county commissioners set July 13 for the special election, more than two months after the tax expired.

“I know the people of Grant County have really supported these emergency services,” Hess told the Enid’s Diary on election night. “And although we had a few hiccups in preparing for the election, it was really good to see the vote go the way it did.”

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Fiscal commission: the rate change requires notice

Oklahoma Tax Commission spokesperson Cassandra Sweetman said the state agency was not made aware of any change in the Grant County sales tax rate after the expiration of the tax on April 30, adding that the rate could only be changed on a quarterly basis.

“A sales tax rate change can only take place on the first day of a quarter,” Sweetman said in an email to NonDoc. “It is the responsibility of municipalities and counties to notify the Oklahoma Tax Commission at least 60 days prior to an increase or decrease in a sales tax rate change (Oklahoma Law Title 68, article 1370). As per the Agreement for the Administration of the Grant County Sales Tax and the Oklahoma Tax Commission, the rate collected by the Tax Commission is to remain the same until informed of any change. The Oklahoma Tax Commission did not receive notification of a rate change from Grant County in 2021. “

Sweetman said CTA employees would not advise a business owner to continue collecting expired sales tax.

“Without knowing more details about the relayed conversation between the trader and the OTC employee, we cannot comment on what may have been said,” Sweetman wrote. “However, employees of the Tax Commission would not advise a company to continue to collect a tax rate for a county if the Tax Commission had been informed by the county that the rate was no longer valid within a notification period. change.”

Roland pederson
Senator Roland Pederson (R-Burlington)

Grant County is in Senator Roland Pederson’s District (R-Burlington). He has been following the history of sales tax over the past several months.

“I know that they missed certain deadlines and that there was a problem because they did not have a secretary of the electoral council for a while, then they appointed a new one,” he said. he declares. “You can kind of see how it went and how some things could be missed and lead to delays, but it looks like everything is on track now, which is a good thing for the county and the first responders. . “

Pederson, who is a retired breeder and educator, said he could understand why someone would question a sales tax after April 30.

“I think if he expired, he expired,” he said. “I can understand why anyone would be wondering what is going on.”

(Correction: This article was updated at 12:10 pm on Wednesday July 28 to correct the reference to the community of Pond Creek. NonDoc regrets the error.)

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