The city of Tulsa is making an effort to squeeze more sales tax
out of the businesses Tulsa already has. The Tulsa city council asked for a review of places where the city should be collecting sales tax, but might not be, because of accounting mistakes.
News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan has the story.
Tulsa's City Council heard it should look to Oklahoma City for advice on how to get every sales tax
dollar owed the city. The city auditorâ€™s staff said it's not hard to find taxes owed - but not paid. Tulsa city internal auditor Cathy Criswell: â€œthere could be people who establish a business, who collect sales tax
from their customers, that never remit them, which hurts us, that hurts the state and it hurts the county.â€
Right now the city issues business permits, and presumes the business starts paying sales tax. The auditorâ€™s office wants to start double checking to make sure. Tulsa city councilor Roscoe Turner asked for the review. â€œBecause there are numerous small businesses that aren't collecting sales tax
and if they are they aren't remitting it.â€
Oklahoma City started by checking the files to make sure each business paid every month. They found some had missed a month and most were honest mistakes, but one of them was a difference of $500,000. Even though Oklahoma City found only one error like that, the city has recovered $5.4-million worth sales tax
so far. And it's all done with just a 3 person auditing staff.
The auditorâ€™s staff told the council more staff would be needed to do the kind of checking needed. Cathy Criswell: "At this point, the city of Tulsa doesn't analyze business licenses compared to sales tax
licenses; this is something we would like to be staffed up to do."
Oklahoma City started its program after noticing sales tax
in the city wasn't growing like it was in the suburbs. That is what's happening now in Tulsa.