by Aleksa Brown
Trading in a stack of Will Ferrell DVDs or pawning off the gold bracelet you got from ol' what's-his-name could cost you $3 if a pawn tax proposed by the Tucson Police Department is approved by the Tucson City Council at tomorrow's meeting.
Under current pawn law, such sales require that a slip is filled out at the time of the transaction, and the store must hold items for 20 days in an effort to catch stolen goods.
But, if the new pawn tax passes, TPD will charge $3 for each slip filled out, a measure which Bookmans Entertainment Exchange owner Bob Oldfather calls "incredibly, incredibly detrimental to businesses."
"All it's going to do is swamp the police department with more paperwork," Oldfather says. "They already can't keep track of all the pawn slips they already get, but because there's this demand for revenue, they're going to increase it."
If the pawn tax is approved by the City Council, most businesses will deduct the $3 tax from the total amount the seller receives, but because of the other options available to Bookmans' sellers—Craigslist, Amazon, Ebay and yard sales— Oldfather said he will have to find
a way to pay for the slips.
"We give a lot to charities," he says. "That's the first place we'd pull it if we had to come up with this kind of money."
The tax would cost "in excess of $100,000 a year" for Bookmans alone, he said.
Instead of singling out pawn shops and secondhand dealers, Oldfather proposed at last week's City Council meeting that they raise the $50-a-year business tax by $20 or $50, a measure he considers both more fair and more lucrative.
Buffalo Exchange owner Kerstin Block said the tax would not apply to clothing but may affect customers selling designer handbags worth more than $100.
Either way, she said she would favor a raise in the business tax, as Oldfather proposed, over the $3 pawn tax that is being considered.
"From our perspective, that would be a better way of going about it than to collect an individual tax on every single item," she said.
Block added via email, "Buffalo Exchange does business in 12 states and has 38 stores and nowhere have we encountered a tax like the one proposed by Tucson Police Department."
TPD spokesman Sgt. Fabian Pacheco didn't want to defend the new fee. He tells The Range: "We're not commenting on that here in the department until it's presented to the Mayor and Council, and that won't be until May 11."