Convenience Store Being Investigated for Sales Tax Fraud

It's not the gas tax break we're talking about; rather it's over-the-counter medications that are the center of controversy. It all started when a Woodville resident went to buy his sick son medicine at their local gas station, but what seemed like a simple task quickly turned downhill.

When Elbert Harris stopped by his neighborhood gas station he had one thing on his mind, to help his sick son, but the cold medicine he purchased quickly became the center of controversy.

Elbert says, “So I questioned the clerk and she said well I got to charge you tax, that's the way it scans.”

Sales tax was applied to Harris' purchase. It may not seem like a big deal, but it's against the law.

Dave Bruns, the Florida Department of Revenue Spokesman, says, “These are features that have been a part of Florida law since 1949. It shouldn't be news to a business in the community.”

By law, over-the-counter drugs and a bulk of groceries are tax exempt, but even Bruns agrees the law is complex. While customers have to ante-up for their favorite soda or carbonated drink, juices are tax-free.

If frozen dinner is on the menu don't expect a sales tax, but when they go for dessert, taxes apply. The list is long and confusing but the one mainstay is over-the-counter drugs.

“Weeks have passed but things haven't changed here at the Inland Convenience Store. We bought a similar Tylenol Sinus and were slapped with a sales tax.”

The store manager says he's fixing the problem and politely offered us a refund, a stark contrast to Elbert Harris' experience

“He came in with two deputies and issued me a trespass warrant and told me not to come back on the property,” adds Harris.

The Department of Revenue is investigating the Woodville gas station. If the problem persists an audit may result, or even a felony charge.