By Jeri Borst
There are some businesses in Mena that are not paying their taxes, and that has the Mena Advertising and Promotions Commission concerned.
At the Aug. 4 AP meeting, commissioners expressed exasperation with a recently purchased hotel, The Lime Tree, which has not paid the AP sales tax to the city since opening.
Discussion at the meeting revealed the city has repeatedly made attempts through emails, telephone calls and in person visits to the business, in attempts to collect sales tax reports and payment.
Commissioner Gar Eisele said not paying taxes is the equivalent of theft.
“If they are making customers pay sales tax, but then they are not sending that money in and are keeping it, that’s theft,” Eisele said.
Commissioners agreed and James Earl Turner and Rick Chrisman suggested pursuing other options to force payment.
“We need an ordinance that gives us the ability to get reports of how much each business is getting each month in sales tax – something with some teeth in it that allows us to charge a fee if the report is not submitted,” Turner said.
Though the city currently has an ordinance that allows for fees to be charged for late payments, commissioners said they also need reports to determine how much sales tax should be collected.
Discussion of hiring a firm to litigate against businesses that do not pay sales tax was also discussed and said the money spent to make an example of such businesses would be worth it.
“It’s bad enough that COVID has slowed things down, and some businesses have been affected and we are not collecting as much revenue, but then on top of that to have some businesses that think paying taxes is optional, it hurts our revenue and is disrespectful,” Chrisman said.