AG: Sales Tax Rebates Potentially Unlawful

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    Citizens who were expecting a vehicle sales tax rebate from the City of Central are in for some unwelcomed news.  On August 16 the mayor’s office announced that a process would be set up to rebate sales taxes on vehicles purchased to replace those lost in the flood.  On January 4 the mayor’s office posted a notice that the sales tax rebates would not be issued because such rebates could be a violation of state law.
    Citizens inquiring in October as to how to apply for their rebate were told that Mayor Shelton had requested an Attorney General’s opinion as to whether the rebates were legal.  The City of Central’s sales tax portion on the purchase of a $25,000 vehicle would result in a rebate of $500.
    The December Attorney General Opinion 16-0184 declines to declare the sales tax rebates unlawful, but advises the mayor of case law that sets very strict guidelines on what a public entity must do to justify giving public funds to citizens.  Mayor Shelton commented, “Based on this opinion we will not be able to rebate taxes.”