For the past four years, the Virginia Department of Taxation has published a list online of the most tax delinquent businesses. The list costs the agency almost nothing and has brought in more than $2.5 million, spokesman Joel Davison said.
“Other states did it and had success with it,” Davison said, adding that the department tries hard to collect payment before a business’s name is placed on the list.
Most of the businesses owe money that they collected for sales tax or employees’ withholding taxes, he said.
“These are not mistakes. Collectors in the field carefully document it and try different ways to get the money they owe us,” Davison said. “Only after these avenues and outlets are exhausted do we nominate a business to go up on the site.”
The list, which you can see here, currently features 27 businesses. Five are in the Richmond area.
BizSense was unable to reach any of the businesses by phone. Three had disconnected phone numbers.
Private companies would love to be able to threaten such tactics, but by law they can’t. Collection agencies can’t even leave voicemails if other people might hear the message, said Glen Kurtz, who runs the local collections agency Transworld Systems.
“There are lots of things the government can do that we can’t,” said Kurtz, adding that public shaming is often effective.
He also said collections is often a game of trying to realign the debtors’ priorities.
“Most people and most businesses have some cash flow, so it’s not if they pay somebody but whom they pay,” he said. “That’s one reason why the squeaky wheel gets the grease.”
The tax-delinquent businesses in the Richmond area are:
Food Fanatics Catering: $113,625
Edgehill Ace hardware: $84,717
Bobble Atkins: $59,000
Doc Masonry Inc: $25,595
Buckingham Inn & Tavern Inc: $18,806.87
Aaron Kremer is the BizSense editor. Please send news tips to [email protected].