PA Sales Tax Audits and Update on ADA Compliant Websites

Maintenance of Pennsylvania Sales and Use Tax Records
A recent “Counsel Call” from a PRLA member indicated that they have been audited since June 2018 by the Department of Revenue, and it is now the end of November. The member and his accountant have provided all the information that the auditor has requested to date. Now, the auditor is requesting receipts (from customer meals eaten) back to 2015. The member does not have this information because he relies on his POS system for such information; however, it only holds data for 800 days.

Unfortunately, the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue Regulations and Sales & Use Tax Statute require that taxpayers who collect sales & use tax must hold their back-up financial records, including receipts, for a period of at least three years from the end of the calendar year to which the records relate. For example, for the calendar year 2018, any sales records generated during that calendar year must be maintained until at least December 31, 2021.

If your POS system is limited on how long it holds data, and you have no back-up system to maintain that data for at least 1,460 days on a rolling basis (i.e., 4 years X 365 days—taking into consideration that January 1, 2018, sales records must be maintained until at least December 31, 2021); you should address this issue immediately with your POS provider or develop a method to store this information in some other system for the required period of time.

The Continuing ADA Website Saga in Less Than 500 Words
We have discussed with PRLA members and the board on several occasions during the last year about the increasing incidents of demand letters to and complaints filed against restaurants and hotels alleging that their website fails to comply with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Some of you may have participated in the PRLA webinar on November 28, titled “ADA Compliance in the Digital Age” by Steve Barshob with DigiPro Media, which is affiliated with a PRLA preferred partner, UnitedHealthcare.

These suits filed by class action plaintiff attorneys started a number of years ago against some large retail targets and financial institutions. We have worked with financial institutions and a trade association regarding these issues which resulted in a national industry settlement of the claims for a segment of the banking industry.

Both the demand letters and complaints sent outline specific instances where a website allegedly fails to meet the WCAG 2.0 standards. While the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not adopted any regulation using WCAG 2.0, the DOJ has used them as the standard for compliance in consent orders, and some federal courts have adopted these standards. A problem is that these claims frequently are brought by one plaintiff, and a settlement with only that one individual does not preclude other qualified individuals from bringing a similar claim.

WCAG 2.0 consists of 12 guidelines, which were developed in 2008 by the Worldwide Web Consortium, an international organization. The ADA itself does not mandate that DOJ utilize these guidelines or that a court adopt them as a standard. In its 2010 Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the DOJ noted that even if a business met all the WCAG 2.0 standards but a disabled individual was unable to access a website, there still would not be full ADA compliance. ADA compliance is a “moving target.” The DOJ was supposed to release new guidelines before the end of 2018.

If you receive a demand letter or are served with a complaint, you should immediately consult a lawyer experienced in these cases. Even if you have not, we recommend that you work with a qualified website provider to upgrade your website(s) using WCAG 2.0 standards promptly. If you can show reasonable compliance, you have much better leverage to defend these claims or secure a “low settlement.”

Unfortunately, the applicability of ADA to mobile applications is also an open issue. Given the advances in technology and the potential for future advances, any standard adopted today will probably be subject to further revision. This will be a continuing saga! Therefore, we encourage you to work with a qualified provider to keep pace with ADA compliant technology. •

If you have any further questions concerning this particular subject, please contact Keith A. Clark, Esquire at or 717-763-1121.


Keith A. Clark, Esquire
General Counsel,
Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association