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Tulsa Mayor Critical of Tax Collection Ban

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Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett's idea of privatizing local sales tax collection has been shut down by the legislature. Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett's idea of privatizing local sales tax collection has been shut down by the legislature.

By Emory Bryan

TULSA, OK -- A plan by Tulsa's Mayor to privatize the collection of local sales tax has been stopped by the state legislature. Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett said the Oklahoma Tax Commission, which collects the tax now, isn't collecting all the tax that is due, and is charging more than it should for the service.

"They don't have enough money; they don't have enough people; they don't have enough capability to properly audit and service our account," Bartlett said.

A bill passed by the legislature Friday bans cities from using third party collection services.

5/10/2010 Related Story: City Of Tulsa Pursues Privatization Of Tax Collection

Bartlett said Tulsa's plan was opposed by the Oklahoma Tax Commission "so they had to go in and sneak in some legislation in at the last minute to try to stop it."

Bartlett said the prohibition takes away an option for the City to improve the bottom line. City staff has already traveled to Alabama for talks with a private firm that collects sales tax in several states, at lower cost than the Oklahoma Tax Commission.

"If they were smart, they would look into the concept of privatizing, having a third party collect the sales tax for all of Oklahoma" said Bartlett.

The Tax Commission collects sales and use tax for all Oklahoma communities. Tulsa would have been the first to privatize the service.

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