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Sales tax not adding up for shoppers, businesses





Transitions in sales tax rates are causing a bit of confusion to both shoppers and retailers locally. State sales tax rates decreased from 6.3 percent to 6.15 percent Monday.

That follows the April 1 sunset on the city of Hays' half-cent sales tax to fund construction of Bickle/Schmidt Sports Complex.

Retailers in Hays, excluding Home Depot, IHOP, Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express, collect sales tax of 7.9 percent. Of that 7.9 percent, 1.25 percent goes toward the city's general fund, and 0.5 percent goes into the city's water and sewer account.

"We've had a few calls on this," said City of Hays Finance Director Kim Rupp. "I do believe residents and vendors are still somewhat confused on what the rate should be."

A sales tax rate of 8.65 is in effect for Home Depot and IHOP. That rate includes a 0.75 percent Transportation Development District tax. Hampton Inn's sales tax rate also includes a 5 percent transient guest tax, making its rate 13.65 percent.

At Holiday Inn Express, the sole member of the Community Improvement District at 48th and Roth, the sales tax rate is 14.9 percent, which includes a 2 percent CID tax and 5 percent transient guest tax.

Sales tax collections for Bickle/Schmidt Sports Complex now are complete. A total of $11.1 million has been collected since the tax was implemented four years ago.

The city of Hays is seeing flat or declining general fund sales tax collections during the last six months. Collections for the month of May were $591,279, a decrease of $19,955 -- or 3.26 percent -- from last year.

Local sales tax rates again will change Oct. 1 when a 0.5 percent sales tax for Ellis County will go into effect. The tax will go toward construction of an EMS/rural fire building as well as expansion and renovation of the county jail, Law Enforcement Center and courthouse. The $14.3 million project will sunset after five years, or when the projects are paid off, depending on which comes first.