ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The Minnesota State Fair might be over, but the state is still fighting to collect a specific parking tax.
It wants homeowners who charge fair-goers to park on their property to pay up.
Last year, more than 1.7 million people visited the fair, and those living near the grounds charged up to $20 for people to park on their lawns for the day.
However, the State Department of Revenue says there’s a law requiring homeowners to pay a tax on that charge — it comes out to more than 7 percent of the parking fee.
When you add it all up, the total tax that the state’s looking to collect could be $70,000 a year.
“The state fair is a long tradition in Minnesota, so I’m sure parking is a long tradition that goes with that,” said deputy commissioner Matt Massman.
Massman said the size of a lot doesn’t matter when it comes to doing what his office does: administer tax laws.
The tax-code states: “parking services, whether on a contractual, hourly, or other periodic basis”… “is subject to Minnesota sales and use tax.”
It includes “parking lots, parking ramps, buildings, or other places,” in this case a homeowner’s private lot.
About 100 lots, on average, charge for parking annually. They’re required to register and collect the fee.
In September, the state sent letters to homeowners around the fairgrounds, who have not paid the tax, wanting the total revenue collected in parking-fees for the last six years from some.
“There’s been periodic communication over time with taxpayers, and so the law has always applied to these parking services,” Massman said.
Homeowners told WCCO off-camera that they’re frustrated. They feel they’re helping fair-goers and even performing a public service.
But the Department of Revenue is sticking to the statute and its responsibility, and can even levy fines against homeowners who don’t pay.