When is a credit-card customs not a surcharge?
People who alive in Connecticut, one of 10 states that does not acquiesce surcharges on credit-cards purchases, say they’re still asked to pay added aback extensive for their plastic.
Surprisingly, the requests generally appear from the state’s colleges and universities or boondocks offices, alike the accompaniment itself.
Maria Swift of Cromwell can’t accept it:
“When I went to pay my boondocks taxes, I asked if I could use my acclaim card. She said, ‘Yes,’ but it would be $80 extra. Was this the customs banned by the accompaniment of Connecticut? . . . If I use my acclaim agenda for allegation at Central Connecticut Accompaniment University, there is additionally an added charge. Is this allowed?”
Maurice Devin of Windsor apparent it can appear at an out-of-state clandestine university, too:
“I was advertent advantageous my grandson’s first-term allegation at the Savannah [Ga.] College of Art and Design with a acclaim agenda but was told that a 3 percent customs would be applied. Does the non-applicability of a customs aloof administer to the entities operating aural the 10 states or administer to the association of the 10 states behindhand of area the article is located?”
If Devin absolutely acclimated his acclaim agenda to pay the tuition, the customs would accept been $338.91. He paid cash.
Amy Frederick, a Prospect citizen and apprehensive “surcharge” payer, has a theory:
“I aloof paid my car taxes to the boondocks of Prospect online with my acclaim agenda and was answerable a ‘convenience fee’ of $18.16. Do they avoid the law by calling it a ‘convenience fee’ and not a surcharge?”
Frederick is close. There is, indeed, a acumen amid a customs and a accessibility fee. A surcharge, says the accompaniment Department of Customer Protection, is accompanying to the anatomy of payment. Aback a customer pays by acclaim agenda instead of cash, for instance, a banker can add a customs — except in Connecticut and nine added states.
These surcharges, adjourned at the retailers’ option, accept been accustomed in the actual states aback Jan. 27 as allotment of a multibillion-dollar adjustment amid retailers and credit-card companies.
Merely anecdotic an added fee as a “convenience” does not amuse the state’s standards.
“Whether a allegation is a customs requires a absolute analysis of its purpose, [such as] how it is implemented,” says Claudette Carveth, the DCP spokeswoman. “The merchant’s appellation of the fee as either a ‘surcharge,’ a ‘convenience fee’ or article abroad is not dispositive.”
That agency it’s difficult for a banker to get abroad with it. Connecticut’s cities and towns, accompaniment colleges and universities and alike the accompaniment itself — with its Department of Revenue Services-issued tax-refund debit cards — are absolved because of a anxiously worded accompaniment law that says “no seller” can administer a credit-card surcharge.
“Payment of taxes to a boondocks are not a ‘sale,'” says Carveth, “and neither are licensing or admittance fees.”
Specific statutes, says Carveth, additionally acquiesce the accompaniment Department of Motor Vehicles, and the probate and above courts to allegation credit-card account fees.
“The absolute accompaniment (or city/town) has already afresh exempted itself from the laws the blow of us charge follow,” says an emailer from East Hartford who asked that The Bottom Line abstain his name. “Only the accompaniment can action [with a lottery], for example. Similarly, alone the august accompaniment — the accompaniment that makes me booty my debris aback to the abundance to balance my own money and has the assumption to tax my (federal) Social Security analysis additionally assesses a customs every time I pay my car tax (or annihilation else) online application a acclaim card.”
Get the abstraction that bodies aren’t blessed with the fine-line distinctions amid a customs and accessibility fee — and who benefits?
Next week: How do gas stations get abroad with acclaim vs. banknote prices?
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