Richmond sued him over 'late' business taxes. Then they realized they actually owed him money.

"CBS 6 has gotten more done in the last 24-48 hours than I've been able to accomplish in five and a half months."
Posted at 6:04 PM, May 21, 2024

RICHMOND, Va. -- The City of Richmond sued a business owner for alleged delinquent taxes only to find out that the city owed the business owner money instead.

Jeffrey Marks said he was "completely blindsided" when he was served a warrant in debt in December 2023 by the Taxing Authority Consulting Services on behalf of the city.

It stated the city was taking him to court over $658 it claimed his former advertising business, Promotional Considerations, owed in taxes, plus attorney fees and court costs.

Marks said he sold the business three years prior, in April 2020, so he was confused about from where the lawsuit stemmed.

“I had never received any written notification, no past due letter, no email, nothing that I may have owed the City of Richmond any taxes of any kind," Marks said.

“They never told you there was a delinquency on your account?” reporter Tyler Layne asked.

“No. Until I got sued," Marks replied.

Marks said he immediately reached out to the finance department to try and get answers. After struggling to get his calls answered or returned for multiple days, he said he eventually got put in contact with a finance employee.

He learned that he had paid his business taxes late by one day in 2018, and then the city accrued penalties and interest.

But when Marks went to City Hall in person to pay his 2019 and 2020 taxes the following two years, he said no one alerted him about an outstanding balance.

“I got my 2019 and 2020 tax bills from the city. Nowhere on those bills does it say you owe extra for 2018," Marks said. "Wouldn't you maybe tell me, so I could've cleared this up years ago?"

Jeffrey Marks
Jeffrey Marks

Regardless, of whether Marks owed the money, he was determined to pay it. Except he didn't owe anything at all.

It turned out that Marks had a credit on his account for overpaying in 2020.

He paid taxes for that full year even though he sold his business in April of that year.

The credit was enough to cover his delinquencies and more, but he never knew it existed.

“Just like they didn't tell you that you had a delinquency, they also didn't tell you that you had a credit?” Layne asked.

“No, and I had way overpaid," Marks said.

Marks brought the potential credit to the city's attention as he was actively being sued.

The city then launched a review of his accounts and continued his court cases to later dates.

However, Marks said it was taking the city months to figure it out and all the while, the threat of being sued was stressing him out.

So, he reached out to CBS 6 after our report last week about how the Richmond Inspector General is investigating allegations that Richmond is failing to notify taxpayers when they have credits on their accounts and then converting the credits into city funds.

After CBS 6 sent questions to the city about Marks' case, the city completely resolved his issue.

Marks received confirmation Tuesday morning from a revenue manager in the finance department that all his balances had been cleared and the city would be sending him a refund by Friday.

The city is still calculating exactly how much he'll receive in his refund.

Additionally, a finance auditor told him the city would be dismissing the lawsuit against him at the next scheduled court hearing.

“You've gotten more done, CBS 6 has gotten more done in the last 24-48 hours than I've been able to accomplish in five and a half months," Marks said.

Though Marks is thankful his problem was resolved, he said it still raises questions about the operations of the finance department.

“These people-- they were they were caring. They were helpful. I just think they're just extremely overworked and understaffed," Marks said. "I think it's really dependent upon the mayor's office and the administrative manager for the city to clean up the tax department and make the billing accurate."

He added, "I would really not want others to have to go through what I've been through-- just the amount of time and the hours and the paperwork."

CBS 6 reached out to the city for a response, and spokesperson Petula Burks said, "This has been positively resolved with the taxpayer."

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