United States: Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against BJ’s Wholesale Club Alleges Improper Sales Tax Collection In Florida – The Continuation Of A Disturbing Trend

On March 17, 2015, Laura Bugliaro (the "Plaintiff") filed a class action lawsuit against BJ's Wholesale Club, Inc. ("BJ's") in the Circuit Court of the 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida. The complaint alleges that BJ's collects sales tax on the full price of items on sale, instead of applying the discount and then collecting sales tax on the discounted amount. The Plaintiff is claiming that BJ's practices are contrary to regulations promulgated by the Florida Department of Revenue (the "Department"). The complaint alleges violations of Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, fraudulent misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, and unjust enrichment. This case is similar to other cases being filed around the country against different retailers.

Background. The Plaintiff claims that on November 22, 2014, she bought a television from a BJ's location in Florida for a "discounted sales price" of $769.99 (the original price of the television was $1,399.99). The Plaintiff claims she was wrongly charged sales tax based on the full $1,399.99 price of the television because the reduced price was not the result of a manufacturer's coupon or discount. If the Plaintiff is correct, this resulted in an additional $37.80 being collected by BJ's (based on Florida's 6% state sales tax rate).

The Plaintiff also claims that she bought another television at a different BJ's location in Florida on November 30, 2014, for a discounted sale price. The Plaintiff again alleges that sales tax was collected on the full price, not the discounted price of the television. In this instance, the television was discounted by $200.00, meaning an extra $12.00 was collected if the Plaintiff's claims are true. Based on these two incidents, the Plaintiff asserts that BJ's regular practice is to charge sales tax on the full price of discounted purchases made in Florida.

Florida sales tax regulations. According to regulations promulgated by the Department, the tax base for discounted sales depends on whether the discount originates with the manufacturer of the product or with the retailer. Coupons, rebates, or discounts issued by the manufacturer of a taxable good are not treated as a reduction in the tax base, and therefore, sales tax is to be charged on the full price of the item. Discounts and coupons issued by the retailer, on the other hand, are supposed to be considered a reduction in the sales tax base, and thus, tax should only be charged on the discounted price paid for the product (i.e., full price less the discount).

Florida's sales tax rules pose compliance challenges for retailers. While sales tax decisions are nominally made by the company's legal, tax, or accounting department, those policies must be implemented by sales clerks or cash register software programs. Sales clerks often lack the knowledge of whether a discount originates from the manufacturer or the retailer, and regardless, such employees should not be expected to interpret complicated tax regulations as part of their job. Further, it is difficult to program software for every possible deal, sale, coupon, rebate, incentive, or other price reduction that manifests itself in the real world. Indeed, depending on how a particular reimbursement is booked and treated for income tax purposes, it may be that the reimbursement should be treated as a manufacture discount in one instance, but a retailer discount in another. Therefore, even retailers who are earnestly attempting to comply with Florida's and other states' sales tax laws can inadvertently collect the wrong amount of tax on certain discounted sales.

Implications for retailers. There is no allegation that BJ's pocketed the "overcharged" sales tax collections or profited in any way from such collections. In fact, there is no indication that BJ's did not remit all collected tax amounts to the Department. Hence, there was no motive or incentive for BJ's to collect excess sales tax from its customers. This suggests that even if the allegations in the complaint are true, any incorrect sales tax practices were inadvertent, contrary to the complaint's assertions of fraudulent activity.

There has been a rash of similar class-action lawsuits filed around the country alleging improper collection of sales tax in connection with discounts or coupons, e.g., Wong v. Whole Foods Market Group, Inc., Case 1:115-cv-00848, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division (filed Jan. 28, 2015); Wong v. Target Corp., Case 1:115-cv-01985, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division (filed Mar. 5, 2015). While the stakes are low for any individual customer who claims to have been overcharged, the stakes are high for retailers subjected to the machinations of aggressive law firms hoping for a lucrative payday. Retailers should ensure they are diligently complying with each state's unique sales tax rules. Reed Smith's State Tax Group will continue to closely monitor this case and similar cases across the United States.

This article is presented for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions