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Lawsuit Alleges Walmart Overcharges Sales Tax When Coupons Are Used

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Walmart is big. It's the biggest employer and retailer in the world, bringing in a $285 billion in annual sales.

So, why would a multi-national corporation allegedly nickel and dime its customers?

That's what one Penn Hills college student wants to know.

"Mr. Farneth bought an item at Walmart, buy-one-get-one-free, presented a coupon," says Frank Salpietro, Brian Farneth's attorney.

In June, Farneth bought two cans of shaving gel at the O'Hara Township Walmart. He then took a close look at his receipt and alleges that he was overcharged on sales tax. The amount was 42 cents.

"By Pennsylvania law, [Walmart is] supposed to deduct the coupon before they charge the tax on items that's purchased," Salpietro said.

Salpietro is filing a class action lawsuit against Walmart on behalf of Farneth and any other customers using coupons to make purchases.

But few customers, like Jenna Barbour, notice.

"I'm a working mom, and so busy, so it's not something I probably would notice," she says.

While Walmart is collecting the sales tax for Pennsylvania, it also gets a tiny cut of one percent.

"But when you add up the pennies over the course of the time," says Salpietro, "Walmart has apparently been doing this - you're talking lots and lots on money."

The lawsuit will be heard in Federal Court.

"And in order to do that, Walmart had to tell the Federal Court the case was worth at least $5 million," said Salpietro.

Regarding the suit, Walmart says this: "Walmart's current systems, with respect to the collection and remittance of sales tax, are in compliance with Pennsylvania's tax laws. We have previously sought an opinion from the state which confirmed this."

Pennsylvania is one of a handful of states with a "consumer friendly law" protecting people from being overcharged on sales tax.

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