Minnesota woman wrongfully charged sales tax on clothing from major retailer

A northern Minnesota woman was wrongfully charged sales tax on clothing from a major retailer, so she's collecting what she's owed and advising others to look into their purchases.

Via Skype, Diane Rohde showed Fox 9 three sets of jackets, snow pants and two pairs of gloves she purchased just before Christmas. She was shocked to see on her receipts that she was repeatedly taxed for the items, despite Minnesota law which states clothing items are exempt from sales tax.

So, Rohde brought her concern to the attention of the cashier at Gander Mountain in St. Cloud.
“He said, ‘it's labeled fishing so it's considered recreational,’” says Rohde. “I said ‘it's clothing, clothing is clothing. How do you know what I'm going to use it for? How do you know I'm hunting?’”

Rohde turned to the Department of Revenue and quickly learned that she was right. There's a long list of non-taxable clothing, from blaze orange jackets to snowmobile suits and boots. There are also plenty of items that can be taxed, such as specialized equipment including hip waders and gloves protecting against an injury.

“I called the Minnesota Attorney General, and she said, ‘no, those items should not be taxed. What you need to do is as long as you have your receipts,  go to the store,  request your sales tax back,’” says Rohde. “So that's what I did.”

Rohde went back to Gander Mountain and was refunded the $85 in taxes she was wrongly charged. A spokesperson for the Department of Revenue said these mistakes happen on occasion, and they do their best to help educate business owners when it does.

This isn’t the first time Rohde has argued over paying tax on clothing. A few years ago, she attempted to purchase a camouflage sweatshirt from Cabela’s, but when the store tried to charge her sales tax she refused and hasn’t been to the store since. 

Rohde said she wonders how much money is being wrongly paid by customers at Gander Mountain and Cabela’s and where the money is going.

“And, if it is going to the state, how come it didn’t get caught? How come it took somebody like me to catch it?” Rohde said. “I just want people to be really aware of what they are purchasing and look at your receipts.”

Full list of taxable and non-taxable clothing items click here.