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July 9, 2003

At Council's request, state says it will try to 'minimize' effect of late tax notice

Responding to a request from The Business Council, the state Department of Taxation and Finance says it will work to ease the effect on businesses of the short notice many merchants received of a change in the state sales tax that took effect last month.

"We share the concern expressed by many New York business owners regarding the tax increase," Arthur J. Roth, commissioner of taxation and finance, said in a June 27 letter to Business Council President Daniel B. Walsh. "As we meet our obligations to enforce the law, we will do everything we can to help minimize the impact on New York businesses caused by the limited time to implement the change in the law."

The promise of help was a response to Walsh's June 18 letter to Roth in which The Council urged the department to "show mercy" to merchants. The state raises its sales tax by one-quarter of one percent, effective June 1. An increase in the New York City sales tax took effect June 4.

"The Business Council, and its allied chambers of commerce, have heard complaints from a number of merchants who received official notice of the tax increase either just before, or in some cases a few days after, it took effect," Walsh wrote. "They are frantically working to comply, but it's not easy."

In the early days of implementation of the change, Walsh wrote, the department should consider ways "to avoid penalties, audits, or other measures," which would only "compound the difficulties facing merchants who are making a good-faith effort to comply with this sudden change in the sales-tax law."