Shopper wins toilet paper tax case against Kmart
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Murrysville resident Mary Bach has won her small claims suit against Kmart for improperly charging her state sales tax on toilet tissue.
District Judge Jeffrey Herbst yesterday ordered Kmart to pay $100 in damages plus $59.50 in court costs.
The longtime consumer advocate sued in September after being charged 28 cents tax on a $3.99, 12-pack of Angel Soft toilet tissue on two separate occasions at the Kmart store on Mall Boulevard in Monroeville.
Although most paper goods are taxable in Pennsylvania, toilet tissue is exempt.
"I'm delighted," Mrs. Bach said yesterday shortly after the judge's ruling.
Kmart, which was represented by the Pittsburgh office of Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, will not appeal the ruling, Kmart spokeswoman Kim Freely said.
"We don't want to fight with our customers," she said. "We apologize for the inconvenience and the problem is being corrected.
"We work diligently to tax products correctly," Ms. Freely said. "Occasionally, errors occur."
Mrs. Bach, who represented herself in court, said Kmart offered to settle her suit before yesterday's proceedings, but the deal required her to sign a confidentiality agreement, which she refused to do.
"I want consumers as they shop during the important holiday season to be aware of what is and what isn't taxable," she said. "I would lose my ability to spread that message if I were gagged."
Her experience, she said, shows that consumers "need to look at every line" on their sales receipts when they shop.
First Published November 30, 2007 12:00 am