State's form change delay could affect tax payments
By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on October 15, 2009 1:46 PM
Sophia Loredo calculates sales tax receipts at the Arrington Mart south of Goldsboro. The recent increase in the sales tax by the legislature has made it more difficult for businesses to fill out the required quarterly forms, since the old forms are no longer of use. State officials have provided worksheets online to help with the conversion, and new forms are expected to be ready soon.
The monthly or quarterly ritual of reporting state sales tax might be more complicated this month due to an unexpected change in paperwork.
When state legislators approved a tax increase that raised combined state and county taxes to 7.75 percent in most N.C. counties, the Sept. 1 tax adjustment happened too late for state officials to print updated sales tax forms.
As a result, the old form E-500 is out of date, and businesses who send in the incorrect numbers based on the old form could have to fill out amended tax paperwork.
"It's an adjustment to the short time frame in which we had to implement the 1 percent sales tax increase," state Department of Revenue spokesperson Thomas Beam said about the problem.
Normally the new tax forms would be mailed in October, and businesses would begin using them in November. However, due to the sales tax increase last month, there is a one-month dead zone before businesses will receive the updated forms.
"We did not have time enough to basically do two versions of all the forms in that 30-day window," Beam said.
A similar situation happened in 2001, he said.
To respond to the change, the department has provided worksheets online to help owners calculate the correct figures for their businesses, and trained workers in helping coach the confused through the process.
The Department of Revenue online worksheets can self-calculate and adjust the numbers, so entering the sales tax figures will give the correct numbers, which can then be copied down on the form and mailed in.
"In the past, we produced worksheets, but they weren't self-calculating," Beam said. "You still have to use the worksheets, but this time, it'll calculate the worksheets for you."
For people without Internet access or who are having trouble using the worksheets, assistance is available by calling 1-877-252-3052.
"What you can do is you can have your numbers ready ... you can call us, and one of our representatives will actually pull up the form for you," Beam said
The worksheets are available online at www.dornc.com /aboutus/education/worksheets.html.
The deadline for filing a monthly return is Oct. 20, and the deadline for filing a quarterly return is Oct. 31.
However, if business owners are trying to work with the department but are having trouble with the changes, an accidental error doesn't necessarily mean they will face a fine.
"They get one month under this hold harmless clause where normally if they were going to be hit with fees or penalties, they get a month," Beam said.