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    The Road to Tyranny by Don Jans

    Santa Paula: Covid Closed Business Overtaxed

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    Guest Editorial, Dr. Vanessa L. White, Owner, Santa Paula Fitness

    Biggest reason why many small businesses will fail during the pandemic: Inaction, caused by Greed

    There are two reasons why some economists are saying 60% of small businesses will close their doors for good because of the pandemic: (1) Governments’ and (2) property owners’ appetites to seemingly take advantage of the small business owner (uschamber.com, July 2020).

    Having owned a small business for almost 10 years, we (my husband and I) have learned that every government entity—city, county, state and fed—has its hand out. ALL have shown an appetite for overtaxing.

    We own one of millions of small businesses forced to shut down since mid-March due to the pandemic. We have had zero income in almost five months. We did receive PPP money and we used absolutely every penny of it to pay our employees—we took no income for ourselves as owners.

    We are already being pressured to pay past due rent to a landlord who is, so far, unwilling to compromise in sharing this financial burden—having recently sent us an invoice for $30,000 that we cannot afford to pay—especially given the lack of business income since forced to close in March.

    Property owners and government leaders have advised that small businesses should take out SBA loans to pay rent and tax fees. In this scenario the lender, landlord and tax collector are all made whole, but the small business owners incur long-term debt. The lender, landlord and tax collector share no financial burden, while small business owners will struggle for years—if ever—to recover financially.

    Adding insult to injury, the Ventura County Tax Assessor recently sent this year’s bill for unsecured business taxes—due August 31, 2020.

    Many corporate and private business organizations have waived fees for their clients in the interest of sharing the pandemic burden and helping small business owners to survive.

    It was worth an email to ask Ventura County Tax Assessor representatives if they would do the same. Unfortunately, like the landlord, the tax team at the county denied both of my requests: (1) to waive the tax bill altogether or (2) to at least waive the late fees and penalties because this enormous bill will not be paid on time, due to circumstances beyond our control.

    The reason given in response to my email by a representative of the Ventura County Tax Assessor’s Office for not waiving the fees was:

    According to the representative who responded: “The Governor’s COVID-19 Executive Order does not cover Unsecured taxes. At this time there are no payment plans, extensions, or reductions allowed under the California Revenue and Taxation code. Unsecured tax payments are due August 31, 2020. Penalties will accrue beginning Sept. 1, 2020. Liens will be placed on unpaid bills.”

    Essentially, the County is hiding behind an excuse that Gov. Newsom isn’t forcing them to do this—so they won’t. Disappointed, angry, offended—just a few of the emotions that come to mind. This bad news was coming from people who have all continued to receive their paychecks since the world shut down.

    It’s insensitive to send this bill to any business that has been forced to close for five months (and counting). Second, not waiving the bill altogether—or at least some portion of it—is a questionable action. Third, not waiving at least the late fees seems to show a lack of understanding regarding how much small businesses are affected by the pandemic. Never did I expect my own community leaders appear to be so unconcerned about how their actions—or inactions—affect local small businesses.

    Instead of waiving late fees and penalties, Ventura County Government and Tax representatives seem to have taken a stance that they prefer we simply close our doors—thus not receiving any future tax revenues from many small businesses like ours. If 60% of small businesses close permanently because of what happened TO US—not BECAUSE OF US, who will then bear full responsibility for paying all future county and local taxes?

    For weeks now, I have contacted numerous politicians throughout the county and state. I requested guidance and help in navigating this sea of unfortunate circumstances. Only a couple answered with obligatory “we hear you” responses. No action has been taken to alleviate small business owners’ overwhelming number of rent and tax issues in this county. Thus, it has become necessary for small businesses to reach out to others to seek help in these difficult, pressing financial issues. We ask how many other small businesses face huge rent and tax challenges that should have already been addressed by our community leaders?

    Understandably, ALL municipalities are struggling for tax dollars. Sales tax receipts have declined significantly, therefore creating a revenue stream deficit. But to “kick” ANY small business when it is down is discouraging, and shows lack of support and appreciation for the many contributions these businesses have made.

    Over the past years, small businesses have played an important role in keeping Ventura County and local governments afloat. Now these same small businesses struggle and make devastating financial sacrifices. We respectfully ask that Ventura County’s politicians and county, local and other community leaders come together to make a commitment to find solutions and take action soon.

    Editor Note, the views expressed in this editorial have been submitted by the author and were not issued from Citizensjournal.us.

    The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal


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    3 COMMENTS

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    Watcher on the wall
    Watcher on the wall
    1 year ago

    This is exactly as designed. Emergency loans is a con to get owners to spend their last saving dollar. They told businesses that it was only temporary, knowing full well they plan to use rolling to shutdowns of small business for years. They knew small business owners would be sentimental to their employees, and burn their personal savings, when they could have cut the losses and liquidated immediately, saving what they could to restart another day.

    Now they are stuck with unplayable loans. Wait until they found out them they are not forgivable. It is a planned war an the middle class, and the middle class lost. If your not on the government payroll, you will be.

    Paul T.
    Paul T.
    2 years ago

    The assessor is required to follow the law. The state legislature and governor could easily pass a bill removing late fees and penalties. They could also suspend taxes on equipment such as the gym’s. They are the real source of the problem. Has our assembly member even introduced a bill? Not likely.

    William Hicks
    William Hicks
    2 years ago
    Reply to  Paul T.

    SURE Paul T.

    You would be correct if not for the executive decision by the leader of the State to close the affected business.

    Remove the lockdown of affected businesses and allow them at least an equal time they were in lockdown to pay their taxes.

    THAT WOULD AT LEAST APPROACH JUSTICE.

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