By Bill Robinson
Lots of Richmond businesses are operating without a city license or are far behind in paying their net-profits taxes, Becky Randall, the city’s recently hired tax investigator told the city commission Tuesday.
She estimates that about half of the businesses she has visited since starting her job last month have no license or are behind on paying their 2-percent net-profits tax or their employees’ 2-percent payroll tax.
“I’m finding a lot of businesses that have not paid their net profits taxes or their employees’ taxes,” she said.
“There’s lots (of them) and some are right outside our front door,” Randall said as the gave her first report during the work session that preceded the commission. “It amazes me, the number of businesses we walk into every day that have never paid (their net profits tax) or do not have a license,” she said.
After spending some time in Bowling Green, observing how her counterpart there works, Randall said she has been hitting the streets daily, checking to verify that businesses are licensed and whether their taxes are current.
Randall, whose official title is business license associate, said she is going through the city section by section and has been working the Eastern Bypass in recent days.
She begins her day by checking with the new tax audit clerk, also hired as part of the city’s stepped-up tax-collection effort, and is normally out making visits by 10 a.m., after most businesses have opened.
In addition to businesses with fixed locations, she checks on crews she finds doing maintenance or construction work. Out-of-town firms that send employees to Richmond also are required to obtain a license and pay taxes.
She also drives through residential neighborhoods looking for contractor crews performing work, Randall said.
When she goes into a business, Randall said she asks to see its licenses, if it is not posted as required by city ordinance. If it is licensed, she has the audit clerk check to see if the business is current on its taxes.
Businesses not current are told to submit copies of their federal tax returns for the past five years, which is how far back the statue of limitations allows the city collect unpaid taxes.
One hair salon that was closed until it paid its back taxes had not paid since 2006, Randall said.
She gives delinquent businesses four days to provide the required paper work.
Mayor Jim Barnes asked if four days was enough time to for a business to submit its back tax returns. Only one business had complained about the time she had given them, Randall said, and even it managed to produce it tax returns in the alloted time.
Randall did not give an estimate of how much revenue she had collected since starting her work.
Bill Robinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 624-6690.