Economy and Business
Tue May 14, 2013
Card Swipe Technology In Laundromats Raises Questions About Sales Tax
Laundromat owners want the state to update its sales tax code.
They say the code dates back nearly 50 years and hasn't kept pace with technology.
The law now on the books was written in 1965 and explicitly exempted users of “coin-operated” washers and dryers from paying the sales tax.
Now, credit and debit card technology lets people swipe to pay.
But if they do, Wane Kuhn says they will be taxed. Kuhn owns Commercial Laundry Sales in Green Bay. He says the tax can add up.
“Your standard top load washer usually averages about $1.75 to $2.00 a load. That's your smallest unit in the laundry. They go all the way up to big 60 pound washers or 80 pound washers. You can be getting $6.00 to $8.00 a load which is an awful lot of quarters to dump into a machine.”
Kuhn says he doesn't sell many machines that use swipe technology.
Neither does Jay McDonald, at least not in Wisconsin. McDonald is a vice president with Alliance Laundry Systems of Ripon. The company bills itself as the world's largest maker of washers and dryers.
“In some states as many as 70 percent of all the new stores that go in use will use a card system. It's more expensive for the owner to put it in but there's a benefit for all parties involved. So it's become the norm. But in Wisconsin the number of card operated laundries is just a handful.”
McDonald says changing the code wouldn't necessarily mean more sales for his company because existing washers and dryers can be converted.
Business owners must collect the laundry sales tax but it most often gets passed on to consumers.