On Thursday the governor signed a bill into law raising the tax on cigarettes by one-dollar a pack. One group not celebrating Iowa’s new higher cigarette tax was the retailers who have to handle the transactions. The law takes effect immediately, but Jerry Fleagle, president of the Iowa Grocery Industry Association, says the store operators have only hours to apply the new tax to merchandise in gas stations, grocery stores and other retail outlets statewide.
They knew, he says, that the tax was being debated in the legislature, but it won final passage Tuesday night — or actually early Wednesday morning — and was signed by the governor Thursday morning, so immediately all cigarettes are going to cost all Iowans a lot more. Fleagle says the many businesspeople who’ll have to charge that new tax and add it to their retail prices deserve notification from the state, and some time to make the change.
He says in a typical store you may have 35 or more different prices on that set of items, and the workers who face that job need information. The state hasn’t sent them any information at all, and Fleagle says it can’t expect them all to charge the new higher prices when they don’t even "know what that’s going to be."
Fleagle says many different retail stores will be affected by the overnight change to the tax on cigarettes. He points out that since grocery stores are very busy on weekends, a lot of grocers take their days off in midweek, so some who weren’t at work the day the bill was signed could punch in Friday morning to discover they’re already in violation of the new law.
While the group says there are bound to be mistakes, it is referring members to a state website to check for information on the new tax.