Several Connecticut Walmart stores reportedly have been applying a sales tax to gun safes, a product that has been exempt from the state sales tax for 15 years.

According to the Connecticut Post, employees at stores in Norwich, Manchester, Waterbury and Naugatuck all said a sales tax would apply on safes and did not seem aware of the exemption.

Hearst Connecticut Media last week conducted a phone survey of Walmart stores regarding a sales tax on gun safes following the case of Sean Witoshynsky, who was surprised to find he was charged $33 tax on a $500 gun safe.

At one Walmart store, in Manchester, a sales associate told a reporter regarding a $397 gun safe: “It would be $425 with tax.”

At a Walmart store in Naugatuck, an associate said a $100 pistol safe would be “roughly $106.50 with tax.”

None of the Walmart employees the paper spoke with seemed to be aware that, for nearly 15 years, gun safety equipment is exempt from the state sales tax.

Walmart spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan told the paper that after checking with 10 tax professionals at the company, they concluded, "Walmart is in compliance with the law and doesn't charge sales tax on gun safes."

Buchanan said she could not respond to Hearst's survey of Connecticut stores, which found that taxes are charged on various models of safes wherever they are sold.

"I can't speak to what the associates said," Buchanan said. "There was no transaction that took place. We are in compliance with the law."

Sarah Kauffman, a spokeswoman for Connecticut's Department of Revenue Services, said the agency will probe Walmart's apparent error and see that those who paid unnecessary sales tax will get refunds.

The department will notify Walmart that gun-safety product sales are tax exempt and advise that taxpayers claiming refunds are due the amount of tax paid, the Connecticut Post reported.

The department will "take appropriate enforcement action if this was not merely erroneous," Kauffman said.

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