Late Taxes Mean Big Trouble for Small Business
Jun 10, 2009 | 1408 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
OURAY COUNTY – Small business owners all over the Western Slope are facing lean times, but those who put off paying quarterly taxes to the state could face big trouble, according to Marilyn Laverty, executive director of the Small Business Development Center.

A division of the Small Business Administration, the Small Business Development Center is based at Western State College in Gunnison. The organization gives free advice to qualifying businesses, including tax assistance.

Laverty said the Colorado Department of Revenue will send letters to businesses who have not filed timely, but she cautions there is only a short window of time to submit tax payments.

If you are past due, the revenue agents will set up an appointment and stop by in person to pick up a certified check for late amounts, dues, penalties and interest.

If the business owner does not have the money to pay their tax bill, the next step can be more drastic according to Laverty.

“Revenue agents have the right to call a local locksmith, change the locks and make arrangements to sell the business assets to pay off the past due taxes,” she said.

Business owners can avoid such pitfalls if they plan ahead through the Small Business Development Center. Laverty offers cash flow planning, budgeting tools and confidential consulting. She can help business owners set up an escrow account to ensure that funds are available when taxes are due. Laverty can be reached at 943-3157 or mlaverty@western.edu.

“Your time and energy is so much more valuable spent marketing and contacting past customers,” Laverty said. “No business has time to deal with the Department of Revenue on past due taxes. The stress is not worth it.”

Ro Silva, manager of the Taxation Public Information and Education for the Colorado Department of Revenue, said payment plans for late quarterly taxes “are no longer an option” and taxes must be filed on time.

Business owners filing quarterly taxes are due for their next payment by July 20 for the second quarter, Silva said. First quarter taxes were due April 20, third quarter due date is Oct. 20 and fourth quarter taxes are due Jan. 20 of the following year.

If business owners do not file a second quarter return by the July 20 deadline, they will be sent a “nonfiler notice” by Aug. 25 for sales tax, by Aug. 15 for lodging taxes, and by Aug. 18 for payroll withholding taxes. The dates are different for home rule communities, such as Ouray and Telluride, she said.

Partial payments and incorrect returns are dealt with much sooner, Silva said.

If the business ignores the nonfiler notice, a second delinquency notice is sent for the tax, penalty and interest. Businesses with no tax to report must still file, she said, even if they enter zero.

“Several attempts to contact the business are made and if the tax is not paid, ultimately the entire amount of the tax liability will be collected by business property seizure and auction,” Silva said.

Business owners who have owed a tax of $20,000 or more for longer than six months can also have their name and the amount due published on the department’s Delinquent Taxpayer List on the Department of Revenue’s Web site, she said.

The taxes collected belong to the state, Silva said, and are called “trust fund” taxes because the business is entrusted to collect and hold these taxes, then remit them to the state.

“These trust fund taxes never become the property of the business,” she said. “It is unlawful for a business to use these taxes for any other purpose.”
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