The King County Superior Court in Washington dismissed a class action lawsuit which alleged that Kroger, Whole Foods, Safeway, and Town & Country Markets improperly collected sales tax on exempt items. In dismissing the claim, the court found that the sales tax at issue is an excise tax. Further, the court found that the exclusive remedy for a wrongfully collected excise tax is to seek a refund from either the retailer or the Department of Revenue, and after that, pursue a civil action in Thurston County Superior Court. The class representatives argued that they were contesting the legality of the tax, and thus not required to follow the statutory procedures for refunds. The court disagreed, holding that the statutory procedural requirements applied regardless of whether the challenge was to the application of the tax as a whole or as to a factual or computational error in imposing or collecting the tax. Because the court did not reach the merits of the underlying claim, the court dismissed the matter without prejudice, allowing the class to re-file with the Department within 21 days.
Caneer v. The Kroger Co., No. 22-2-08219-4-KNT (King Cnty. Sup. Ct., Jan. 20, 2023).