Documentation is critical when contesting sales tax, dealer discovers

Publish Date: 
Aug 19, 2013

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. - A local dealer tried to contest part of a city bill for back sales taxes on vehicle deliveries to out-of-town customers. Alas, it didn't have the paperwork to prove its case.

Mountain Powersports, which also has the Aspen Valley Harley-Davidson dealership in Glenwood Springs, owes $158,000 in back sales taxes accounting for the past three years, according to the City. The dealer acknowledged that it owes the bulk of the money but asked the City Council Aug. 15 to exempt $29,100 worth of the taxes it claims were from sales deliveries outside of town.

“We had some past management that misunderstood how the taxes were to be paid,” CFO Pedro Soares told the council, referencing about 486 vehicles that were sold between the spring of 2010 and July 2012. “We were wrong, and we are going to rectify that and pay the taxes we owe. We’re just asking that you reflect those vehicles that were delivered outside the city.”

At issue are sales taxes for about 80 ATVs, snowmobiles and other off-road vehicles. Mountain Powersports told the council that although the dealership lacks paperwork to prove it, those vehicles were delivered outside the city and should be exempt from city sales tax.

“We do have our employees under oath saying they delivered those vehicles elsewhere [outside Glenwood Springs],” Soares was quoted in the Post Independent.

The council was unconvinced, and backed city finance director Mike Harman’s determination that the full amount of back taxes are owed. “I do feel sympathetic toward businesses, especially with the struggles of the last four or five years,” Councilman Todd Leahy said. “But absent the documentation, it’s hard to rule against staff’s decision on this.”

Posted by Holly Wagner