Chasing pulltab debts

Posted: Friday, July 13, 2001

I would like to clarify a comment I made regarding the pulltab sales tax delinquency that "If we hold firm, we run the risk of getting zip."

What may appear as reluctance to play hardball with the delinquent pulltab operators could more accurately be called playing for field position so we can reasonably be assured of getting the debt paid.

We have played hardball with the delinquent pulltab operators. We played hardball by standing up for our right to collect sales tax on their "sales." We played hardball by taking them to court and we won.

But the longball game is over and now we need some good base running.

It has long been the city policy in dealing with businesses delinquent in sales tax payments to work with them on a payment plan that will keep the operation in business and allow repayment of debt. If we shut the business down, then we eliminate all chance of recovering unpaid taxes.

It is a workable policy and very effective in collecting hundreds of thousands of delinquent sales tax dollars in the past decade.

The operators that owe back taxes own no property to lien, their bank accounts have very little money in them at any one time that can be seized, and their gaming licenses are non-transferable and do not have a value like a liquor license or a limited entry permit. The fact is they could go out of business tomorrow and we'd get nothing that is owed.

That is "the risk of getting zip!" To add insult to injury, they could reappear next year under a different name and permit and do it all over again.

In this game of hardball with the pulltab operators, we've hit the home runs and we have the lead. But if they take their ball and go home, the game is over and counts as a loss. If we can keep them in the game, it will be a win.

John MacKinnon

Deputy Mayor

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