With serious financial cutbacks and the prospect of raising property taxes in the coming months, the city of Wilmore is making a serious effort to collect what it is owed in delinquent business and occupational taxes.
However, there is a grace period for those businesses with back taxes.
The city will be sending out letters by the end of the week to more than 200 businesses offering them a tax-amnesty period to forgive interest and penalties.
For the next three and a half months, businesses will have the opportunity to get caught up on any taxes they owe to the city from 2007 to 2011. But after Dec. 31, interest and penalties will start to incur on the debt.
“Most of the businesses are from out of Wilmore,” financial director Hayley Ellis said, “mostly contractors who come in but don’t pay payroll taxes or anything.”
Delivery services and construction companies are the biggest offenders and were identified by Municipal Revenue Solutions, LLC.
The city reunited with MRS in April after the company identified more than 280 businesses as delinquent in occupational taxes owed to the city of Wilmore that may total as much as $75,000.
“We are hoping to collect at a minimum $60,000 through the tax-amnesty program,” Ellis said.
For a $5,000 retainer, MRS began background and forensic audits of the city’s tax records to begin to identify businesses that have been operating in Wilmore but had either not registered with the city or had gaps in their payment history.
If those same outside businesses continue to do work in Wilmore, they have the potential of bringing in as much as $36,000 per year, MRS predicts.
“This is an effort to allow businesses that may have been working in our community in the past, as well as currently, to become compliant with the city’s tax ordinance without incurring any penalty,” Mayor Harold Rainwater said. “But ultimately, this is a question of fairness. It’s not fair for some businesses to be paying and others not. But more importantly, it would be even more unfair to ask our existing businesses and residents to pay more because the city wasn’t doing everything we should to collect all the revenue due our community.”
Rainwater said the funds will pay for the citizens to have well-maintained streets to drive on, police and fire service, and all the other services Wilmore government provides.
The letters sent out will explain the business and occupational tax, the amnesty process and the forms needed to register in order to catch up any back due to the city of Wilmore.
For information on this program, call city hall at 859-858-4411.