Ordinance prevents delinquent taxpayers from obtaining business licenses

By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: May 26, 2019 | 12:30 p.m.

After emergency passage, new policy permanently added to county code

PRINCE GEORGE – Nearly a month after enacting an emergency ordinance that required full payment of all delinquent taxes by a taxpayer before being able to receive or renew a business license, supervisors took action last week to make the policy permanent.

After a public hearing last Tuesday, supervisors voted unanimously to move forward with permanently adding the language to the county’s code after taking emergency action in April to add it at that time, which required a public hearing to be held within 60 days of its adoption.

At the time of the emergency ordinance’s adoption, County Attorney Steven Micas provided the board with an overview of the rationale behind the policy, noting, “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.”

In an effort to provide an option that allows for consistent enforcement of the policy, Micas pointed to Virginia State Code Section 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.”

With that in mind, Micas’ language at the time of the April 2019 ordinance’s adoption by the board stated that “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.”

That language further stated that their business license would 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 county documents, the ordinance was adjusted slightly at the request of the county’s treasurer and commissioner of revenue in order to remove the language that sought the immediate revocation of a business license after a taxpayer defaulted on a payment plan.

“Instead, the new language would prohibit the issuance of the subsequent year’s business license until all delinquent taxes have been paid if the taxpayer has defaulted on a previous payment plan,” county documents detail.

In April, a representative from the county’s commissioner of revenue office told supervisors during their discussion over the then-proposed ordinance that the measure 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.”

Prior to last week’s meeting and eventual action, supervisors had 60 days from the time of adoption in April to hold a public hearing on the emergency ordinance. Last week, no one from the community spoke for or against the measure during the public hearing.

With the adjustments that removed the automatic license revocation language, the measure was unanimously approved and now is a permanent part of the county’s code.

Copyright 2019 by Womack Publishing
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