Officials getting ready to crack down on businesses who aren’t collecting appropriate sales tax funds

Published 5:25 pm Saturday, March 17, 2018

Some Vicksburg businesses have not been collecting the special 2 percent city sales tax and the 1 percent sales tax for the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, resulting in lower revenues for both agencies.

Hotels and restaurants in Vicksburg are supposed to collect a total of 10 percent in sales tax on every dollar spent on hotel room rentals and food and beverage sales — the 7 percent state sales tax, a special 1 percent sales tax for the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau that was passed in 1995 and the special 2 percent tax for the city’s sports complex the voters approved in June.

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Revenue from the city’s special 2 percent tax received in the first quarter totaled about $417,022.

The Board of Mayor and Board of Aldermen on July 11 approved levying the 2 percent tax beginning Oct. 1 with the 2019 fiscal year to help pay for the sports complex project.

Mississippi Department of Revenue spokeswoman Kathy Waterbury said notices were sent to all the affected businesses Aug. 28 and also put on the Revenue Department’s website.

“They were all notified,” Waterbury said, adding when the department received the notice about the collections it began an investigation, and has been working with local officials to get the problem corrected.

But a check of local restaurants and hotels by the VCVB and the state indicated some businesses are not collecting the 2 percent tax, while some were not collecting either special tax.

Waterbury said an investigation by the department in response to a notice by city and VCVB officials indicated 28 businesses were not collecting the 2 percent tax. Of that number, 19 were also not collecting the 1 percent VCVB tax.

VCVB director Bill Seratt said the joint city-VCVB notice was filed after employees from his office collected receipts from restaurants to see what tax amounts they were collecting, “And not all of them were collecting what they should be.

“Our collections have been down just a bit, but eventually they should get caught up. They (the businesses) are responsible for it whether it was collected or not, that’s what the (state) Revenue Department officials working on this with us have told us.”

Waterbury said the businesses that were not in compliance were notified again, “And they’ve been instructed that they need to file amended returns and get that caught up.

“I think part of the confusion was whether they paid one or both, so I think we’ve got that worked out,” she said.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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