Emergency ordinance passes affecting business licenses for delinquent taxpayers

By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: April 24, 2019 | 12:30 p.m.

PRINCE GEORGE – A new ordinance has gone into effect that requires the payment of all delinquent taxes as a condition of receiving a business license in Prince George County.

During their meeting this month, supervisors unanimously approved the adoption of the amendment to the county’s code “on an emergency basis,” with plans to advertise and hold a public hearing on the amendment on May 9, where it could then either be permanently included in the county’s laws or removed at the discretion of the Prince George Board of Supervisors following that hearing.

According to County Attorney Steven Micas, “In the past, Prince George has typically required that all delinquent taxes be paid prior to the issuance of a business license,” but noted that the practice has “likely been inconsistently enforced.”

He added if the county wanted to enforce this policy consistently, state law allows Prince George County to be able to require all outstanding taxes be paid before the issuance of business licenses, pointing to § 58.1-3700, which states, “The governing body of any county, city or town may require that no business license under this chapter shall be issued until the applicant has produced satisfactory evidence that all delinquent business license, real estate, personal property, meals, transient occupancy, severance and admissions taxes owed by the business to the county, city or town have been paid which have been properly assessed against the applicant by the county, city or town.”

To that end, Micas’ amendment to the county’s code now makes it so “no business license shall be issued until the applicant has produced satisfactory evidence that all delinquent business license, personal property, and transient occupancy taxes owed by the business to the county have been paid, or the business has entered into a payment plan for the payment of such delinquent taxes and is not delinquent in making payments under such plan.”

In addition, if a business does receive a business license after being on a payment plan but they end up defaulting on that plan, their license will be revoked and “a new business license shall not be issued” to the business until all of the delinquent taxes owed by the business are “paid in full.” 

Their business license will be revoked five days after notification is mailed via certified mail by the Commissioner of Revenue’s office to their last known address.

According to a representative from the county’s commissioner of revenue’s office who spoke during last Tuesday’s meeting, this ordinance would affect nine businesses who have outstanding delinquent personal property tax balances “ranging from $25 to $55,000.”

“We would do our due diligence when it comes to sending [notifications] by certified mail and reaching out and calling them,” she said responding to Supervisor T.J. Webb’s question regarding the initial language that said notifications to those affected businesses would be sent via regular mail, and not certified mail, which allows for confirmation that it was delivered.

“This would only affect those who are doing a payment plan,” the commissioner of revenue office’s representative said. “So, if they decide to pay in full, they don’t have to worry about this.”

Based on the adoption of this language on an “emergency basis,” the board of supervisors has 60 days to hold a public hearing on the code amendment or it will expire after that time and be removed from the county’s code. Prior to the amendment’s adoption, Micas explained this will be advertised over the next few weeks for a public hearing on May 9.

After the community offers their comments on the amendment, the board can then vote to add it permanently to the county’s laws or opt to remove it at that time. Should it be voted down, the measure would die there and be removed and not be subject to remaining on the books for 60 days after its adoption as the public hearing had occurred on the matter.

Even though the amendment passed unanimously, Supervisor Alan Carmichael was absent from the meeting and did not vote in its 4-0 passage.

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