Woman Rubbed Wrong Way by Toilet Paper Tax Wins Lawsuit Against Kmart

It wasn't quite a Boston Tea Party, but Mary Bach claimed victory for all citizens of Pennsylvania with a legal ruling on an item the state calls a nontaxable necessity: toilet paper.

Bach won $100 plus court costs after she sued Kmart for illegally collecting 28 cents tax on a 12-roll package of toilet paper.

Although most paper goods are taxed in Pennsylvania, toilet tissue is listed as a nontaxable necessity by the state Department of Revenue.

Kmart offered to settle the case out of court before a Thursday hearing in Western Pennsylvania, but Bach refused because it would have required her to sign a confidentiality agreement.

"I would lose my ability to spread that message if I were gagged," Bach said after the verdict by a Monroeville district judge.

Bach, of Murrysville, sued in October after a Kmart store in Monroeville twice collected a 7 percent tax on her $3.99 purchases.

Kmart, a unit of Sears Holdings Corp., said it will not appeal the verdict.

"We don't want to fight with our customers," Kmart spokeswoman Kim Freely said. "We apologize for the inconvenience and the problem is being corrected."

Bach said shoppers "need to look at every line" on sales receipts when they shop.

Bach brought the suit under the state's Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law. Plaintiffs can sue for the amount of the damages or $100, whichever is more.

"I want consumers as they shop during the important holiday to be aware of what is and what isn't taxable," Bach said.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)