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Help Me Hank

Help Me Hank: Backyard brainteaser

Sneakers - no sales tax, but bowling shoes - tax! A newspaper - no sales tax, but a book - tax! In our never ending quest to make sure you don't pay five percent more if you don't have to, here's another "Help Me Hank" sales tax puzzler dug up by Angelo, a backyard gardener.
 
Angelo Petrolini, gardener
"It gives me satisfaction."
 
Angelo's got tomatoes and cucumbers already sprouting! And here he's just getting his watermelon seeds in the ground. To make his garden grow he needs sun, water and manure!
 
Angelo Petrolini, gardener
"It strengthens the soil, it gives it nutrients."
 
So, Angelo bought 18 bags of a fertilizer blend, just the right stuff to prepare his soil for planting. The cost was $2.19 a bag, but the store added a five percent sales tax.
 
Angelo Petrolini, gardener
"I said sales tax, I don't think so."
 
Angelo, an experienced gardener, never paid tax on his fertilizer before, but the cashier insisted his purchase was taxable.
 
Angelo Petrolini, gardener
"I thought it was a bad answer."
 
So Angelo headed home to dig deeper and picked up the phone.
 
Angelo Petrolini, gardener
"I said let me try Help Me Hank."
 
It's a backyard brainteaser! So we called the Department of Revenue to get the sales tax scoop.
 
Hank Phillippi Ryan, Investigative Reporter
"This is Hank Phillippi Ryan at Channel 7."
 
And dig this! Tax experts told us you can't be charged sales tax on fertilizer and that includes Angelo's manure.
 
Hank Phillippi Ryan, Investigative Reporter
"It's clearly a mistake, correct?"
 
We called the company and told them to weed out this mistake! They apologized via e-mail that the overcharge was "inadvertently" made and they had "moved quickly to correct [their] systems." And they said Angelo could come in and collect his refund.
 
Now Angelo's back to tending to his garden and is looking forward to a homegrown meal.
 
Angelo Petrolini, gardener
I" think it's fair."

(Copyright 2008 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)