PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — Shoppers at a specific Pasco County shopping center say they're confused about a mysterious fee showing up on their receipts.

  • Shoppers at Cypress Creek Town Center getting hit with "public user fee"
  • County tax collector confirms it is not a tax and does not go to local government
  • More Pasco County stories

It’s happening at stores at the Cypress Creek Town Center at State Road 56 and I-75. 

We went there, did some shopping at HomeGoods, and sure enough, our receipt had an added line that read, "FL PUF 0.50%" and a charge of $0.04.

"It's almost fraudulent"

Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano says he’s received several complaints about this fee.  

“It’s deceiving, in my opinion. It’s almost fraudulent,” Fasano said in an interview. “People think it’s a tax when it’s not a tax.”

It certainly looks like it’s a state tax with that the “FL” printed. However, it's actually something called a “public user fee,” and it's being charged by the developer of the property, not the stores or the state. 

The fee is half a percent and is charged on the total price of the purchase, including the 7 percent sales tax. 

“You’re getting hit twice. It’s double taxation almost,” Fasano said. 

Center now warning about fee

Fasano said there’s nothing his office can do about it. He does think local leaders should consider an ordinance to require signage if this fee is charged.

So far, this is the only place in Pasco he knows this is happening. 

“Something has to tell the customer 'you’re going to be charged this extra fee' before you get to the check-out counter,” Fasano said. 

The developer, Hutton, did not answer requests for comment. However, they do now have signs posted at the shops there warning about the fee. 

Some of the stores there, like Hobby Lobby, are now absorbing that “public user fee” so their customers don’t pay it.