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Fireworks Industry Sues Pennsylvania Over Additional 12 Percent Sales Tax

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ROSS TOWNSHIP (KDKA) -- The sellers of big time fireworks that were previously illegal in Pennsylvania are moving ahead with plans to set up shop in the Pittsburgh area before July 4, even while the industry is suing Pennsylvania over the new law that allows the sales.

Phantom Fireworks has a site on McKnight Road and is looking for locations in Monroeville, the South Hills, and west of the city.

But the company and its competitors are worried about what the additional 12 percent sales tax that is going to be added onto fireworks for a total sales tax of 19 percent in Pittsburgh.

"Everything is dependent on the Fourth of July, so an additional 12 percent tax on something that most people buy once a year, we thought was punitive plain and simple," Danial Peart, Phantom's Director of Governmental Affairs said.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

On a $1,000 purchase those fireworks will cost an extra $120 in Pennsylvania than in Ohio.

"I'll drive to Ohio," Tyler Miller, of Highland Park, said. "Maybe hit a diner, get 'em for cheap."

Issac Weaver is not so sure it's worth it.

"I mean that's far, do you really want to drive all that way to get 'em? Or do you just want to stay here and get 'em?" he said.

But it's not just the tax that prompted the fireworks leaders to sue the state.

The fireworks companies have a lot of regulations to follow to set up fireworks stores while the legislature is also going to allow seasonal tents to see the same fireworks.

Peart says the tents have an unfair advantage and are a risk.

"No fire protection, no walls for containment, no sprinkler system, they have no smoke alarms," he said. "The majority are operating out of a cigar box."

With no system, he adds, to make sure the proper tax is going into that cigar box.

The lawsuit threatens to have the entire tax code thrown out as unconstitutional which has the legislature's attention. Preliminary discussions are underway to make changes to resolve issues in the suit.

The suit is not expected to be resolved before this fall and is not expected to impact sales for this Fourth of July.

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