A woman makes a TikTok video documenting a strange "Public Improvement Fee" she is being charged on every single item she purchases at Target in Colorado Springs. It turns out to be a Public Improvement fee that is set by either the developer or landlords of the property and goes directly to them. This is not something that Target has control over, but it is still something that will add to the bill.
A woman shopping at a Target she has not visited before in Colorado Springs is baffled by a 2.5% fee that she is charged for every single item she purchases at the store.
Holly Teska makes a TikTok video asking if the fee is the same as sales tax and why it is being charged. She gives a shot of the checkout screen with this fee after every purchase (seen below).
"Things are getting out of control right now. So like, I was purchasing my items, checking out in the self-checkout, and I noticed that there was a new public improvement fee, which was 2.5% per item, so like, $0.50 for every item, and I took a picture of this." -Holly Teska, TikTok video
"I'm just wondering, public improvement...isn't that like sales tax is? Like what do we pay sales tax for?" -Holly Teska, TikTok video
Holly's TikTok video can be viewed below.
What is the public improvement fee, and why is it charged?
Keep reading to find out all of the details.
What is the Public Improvement Fee (PIF) in Colorado Springs?
The public improvement fee, or PIF, is something that residents of Colorado Springs are all too familiar with, and it's mostly not viewed favorably as it is charged in addition to sales tax.
FOX 21 News reported that when a developer or landlord enacts a public improvement fee (PIF), there is nothing that the lessee, the city's government, or even voters have anything to do with.
The developers claim that the purpose of the public improvement fee is to "find public improvements and other eligible costs associated with redevelopment and revitalization of the shopping center and surrounding areas." (Source: FOX 21 News)
KOAA News5 reported that the public improvement fee was further explained by Charae McDaniel, the chief financial officer for the City of Colorado Springs.
"It's commonly used to fund improvements on the property, for example, sidewalks, lighting, parking lots, or it can also be used as a revenue stream for bond repayment," said McDaniel. "The trends that we're seeing, (PIF's) are more so with newer developments, so the developments that are occurring in the last five to ten years are the ones that have them more." -Charae McDaniel, Chief Financial Officer of Colorado Springs (Source: KOAA News5)
When a business moves into a building that has a PIF, they have to sign a contractual agreement with the property developer. The business owner must then calculate the public improvement fees on sales they collected, and then report this to the developer. The process is very similar to collecting sales tax and paying it to the city, the county, and to the state.
ColoradoSprings.gov states on its website that "public improvement fees must be listed on the sales receipt as a separate line item from the sales tax."
Buyer Beware for Public Improvement Fees in Colorado Springs
In some cases, if the shopper doesn't review their receipt, they might not even be aware they are paying the public improvement fee. If a PIF is set at 1% and you have a $100 bill to pay, you'll be paying $1 on that receipt for the public improvement fee.
Also, keep in mind that different shopping centers can have different public improvement fees. The public improvement fee at Target is 2.5%, while the public improvement fee at Beasts & Brews in Northgate is 1%, and the fee at the shops at First and Main is 0.75%. These fees are set by the developer or landlord of the property.
Do you think it is fair that Colorado Springs allows developers and landlords to set impose public improvement fees as they choose?
ColoradoSprings.gov "Frequently Asked Questions" page.
TikTok account: @hollyintheclouds
Portillo, Ashley. "What are public improvement fees found on receipts at local businesses, restaurants?" KOAA News5. Updated: 9 July 2021.
Marks, Samantha. "What's a PIF and why am I paying for it?" Posted: 9 May 2018. Updated: 10 May 2018.
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