On Monday afternoon, Spotify subscribers in D.C. began receiving emails from the company announcing that their fees would be rising due to a new sales tax—in Iowa.
Users soon began asking the obvious question: Why would D.C. customers of a company with a U.S. headquarters in New York City have to pay an Iowa tax?
There’s likely a simple explanation: a typo. As the popular D.C.-area blog Popville theorized in a post about the confusion, ZIP codes in D.C. begin with 200**, while those in Iowa begin with 500**. The likely culprit in this scenario is a Spotify employee or software glitch that accidentally targeted D.C. subscribers with an email intended for those from Iowa. It’s also possible that the D.C. customer email list was mixed up with the Iowa one.
This theory was bolstered by reports from Iowa subscribers, who say that they received fee increase emails referencing D.C. taxes.
In June, the Supreme Court upheld South Dakota legislation that imposes sales taxes on online retailers even if they don’t have a physical presence in the state. This paved the way for both Iowa and D.C. to impose similar taxes on users of companies like Spotify, Netflix, and Wayfair.
Spotify has not publicly admitted to a ZIP code snafu (or responded to Slate’s request for comment), but some Twitter users have said that the company’s customer service department has been sending private messages clarifying the situation.