Additionally, according to the article they may have failed to follow the NYS Sales Tax Laws by not collecting sales tax for the many items that they sell.
According to Library Treasurer Heather Mowat:
Mowat said sales tax is included in the price of each item sold. The goal of selling items such as memory sticks is to provide a service to visitors, not to make money, she said.That may very well be true; however, according to the NYS Sales Tax Publication 34, that practice could cause some problems for the library because it is considered illegal unless the customer understands that as part of the price they are paying NYS Sales Tax.
New York State Tax Law requires that a vendor must collect sales tax from the customer when collecting the selling price of any taxable item or service. It is illegal for a vendor to advertise or represent to the public in any manner, directly or indirectly, that tax is not considered as an element in the price to be paid by the customer. Therefore, advertisements stating that the customer will not be charged the tax, that the vendor will pay the tax for the customer, or that the tax will be refunded to the customer or applied as a credit against the customer’s bill, account, or future purchases, are prohibited.This writer has been to the library many times to purchase used books. Since the book sales are ongoing (every day vs. once or twice a year), all sales on the used books are taxable. Never has a receipt been offered for purchases and the money paid each time has merely been placed in a drawer beneath the counter. Where's the accountability?
Mr. Wiatr has in the past asked who is selling the books and has been told that the Friends of the NHPL conducts and collects the money for the book sales. We have always just paid at the desk so we have no idea if that is true. If it is true, then the Friends of the NHPL are liable for taxes and must have their own Sales Tax Certificate of Authority. They cannot use the library's certificate!
Further the Certificate of Authority for both the library and the Friends must be displayed at all times. We have never seen a certificate for either the New Hartford Library or the Friends.
Now if the library chooses not to issues receipts (although we can’t imagine why that would be) the law states:
Where no written receipt is given to the customer at the time of the sale, the unit price method is allowed for sales other than sales of gasoline and diesel fuel. The unit price is the total price charged, including the sales tax. The customer must be made aware that the sales tax is included in the selling price of such sales.The library should also note that:
The vendor must visibly display a placard or sign stating that the selling price of all taxable items includes sales tax. In addition, the vendor must distinguish between taxable and nontaxable items offered for sale. This may be done by such methods as attaching labels to merchandise to indicate taxable or nontaxable status, displaying taxable and nontaxable items separately, or having available detailed listings of taxable and nontaxable items.
If a customer requests and receives a receipt, the sales tax must be separately stated on the receipt.Bottom line, the library is clearly not following the NYS Sales Tax Law even though Ms. Mowat tried to excuse their actions by saying the sales tax is included.
As a business owner, this writer is well aware of the Sales Tax Law; however, it would appear that the library board lacks the expertise on such matters and is “out to lunch” when it comes to their fiduciary responsibilities. There are many publications on the NYS Sales Tax website that the library board should review.
The library needs to stop choosing their trustees because of their “family and friends” connections and start choosing people for their specific areas of expertise or at least choose people who are not afraid to ask questions and people who don’t purposely try to humiliate those who do ask the “hard” questions.