SEABROOK – Three local businesses and three county individuals, who collectively owe the state of Maryland a combined $2.7 million in unpaid taxes were named in the “Caught in the Web” program list released by Comptroller Peter Franchot on July 11.
The program, established in 2000, is “the last straw” for those who have not paid their taxes from the previous year, Press Secretary Alan Brody said. The combined total of missing taxes, incurred penalties, and growing interests by both individuals and businesses in this year’s list add up to over $12 million.
Certified letters are sent out by the Comptroller’s Office when a person or company does not pay their Maryland taxes. In the message, all taxes, interest, and penalties are posted, and taxpayers must contact the office to resolve the delayed payment.
“My Caught in the Web program highlights a small number of individuals and businesses that make a conscious effort to not pay their taxes,” Franchot said. “The vast majority of Marylanders pay their fair share of taxes, and my office is committed to ensuring that everyone does.”
Since lien and judgments are recorded in the public records and can be found through the Maryland Judiciary Case Search, both lists are legal, Brody said.
According to Brody, “a great majority” of the 20 businesses posted on the list are out of business, making the process of collecting taxes from them harder. The state can issue a summons to appear to a court hearing to revoke a sales tax, business and professional licenses.
“All citizens have the obligation to pay taxes, and nobody is above the law,” Brody said. “Regardless if you a regular average joe or a prominent individual or a high-profile business, these tax dollars go to fund the roads we drive on, schools we send our kids to, the hospitals we depend on and countless other projects.”
All three area businesses posted on the list owe more than $1.9 million and are currently closed without working phone numbers.
Shivem Inc. which owns the now-closed Laurel Station Bar & Grill on Baltimore Avenue owes the most out of the county businesses with $320,972 of taxes and ranks fifth overall.
The restaurant, according to their Yelp page, was an American sports bar with food prices ranging from $11-30. It was last open in the fall of 2016 according to their Facebook page.
Beltsville-based Georgia Ave Enterprises Inc ranked sixth, owing more than $230,000. The company owned G & G Service Center, a repair shop, in Silver Spring before losing closing the business. Court filings show that since 2011, the garage had several tax liens while still operating.
The final county business is Lanham Garage Inc., formally known as Lanham Auto Body which owes $232,501. The former body shop was located in Seabrook on Smith Avenue with other car repair garages. Currently, the building sits abandoned, boarded up with the garage door filled in with bricks.
Individuals who fail to contact the agency after receiving the certified letter, fail to pay their taxes, enter a payment plan or provide a reason for the delayed payment, the Comptroller’s office have options to obtain the missing taxes. Some of the options include the state filing for a lien on their property, garnishing a person’s wages and intercepting state and federal tax refunds.
Venus D. Hill from Clinton topped the individual taxpayers' list with the highest amount at $1,540,560. Her singular total is the second largest amount on both lists with Hagerstown based Sharpsburg Shell and Snax accumulating over $1.6 million.
According to open court records, Hill lost a case with the State of Maryland in 2012 and needed to pay back $1,144,434.52. Currently, Hill is in court with debt collector agency Jefferson Capital Systems.
James Hansford from Oxon Hill and Michael D. Timmons from Upper Marlboro round out the remaining county offenders, equaling $454,334.
The Comptroller’s Office reports that since the publication of the list began in 2000, it has collected $45 million of missing taxes. Regardless of the amount owed, the state does provide aid those who could not pay their taxes on time, including creating a payment plan, but one must get in touch with the office, Brody said.
“These people have chosen to take advantage of the benefits of this great state while thumbing their noses at the taxpayers who fulfill their legal obligations,” Franchot said.