Changes possible for Chesterfield business taxes

By Ben Garbarek - bio | email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Business owners in Chesterfield could be in for a break. A vote tonight could decide whether those with delinquent taxes will be able to stay open.

Right now, unpaid taxes mean losing your business license and your ability to pay the bills. But a code change would let the doors stay open, and get the county it's money back.

Arum Devani owns Stuffy's Subs in Chesterfield County. He says he pays his taxes, but it's not always easy to keep up.

"It's not that the business people don't want to pay their taxes," he said. "It's just that they can't. They have to pay the bills."

Chesterfield County is considering changing its tax code to help out struggling businesses. Instead of losing its license, those with delinquent taxes could keep operating, if they've started to make good on the debt through a payment plan.

County Treasurer Richard Cordle says the change makes sense.

"It keeps the business legal," Cordle said. "It shows good intent to pay the taxes that are due, plus in this environment, a lot of businesses have had challenges economically and this is a way to help them through a difficult time."

Business owners say there's no way to make money and pay off delinquent taxes if they must close their doors after losing their license.

"If the county wanted to recoup any money from a small business, the only way he could pay is to be successful in that business," Devani said. "If not, he's not going to make any money anyway."

County leaders say Chesterfield could always use the money coming in from these unpaid taxes, making it a win-win situation.

"Taxes are not an option," Cordle said. "But if there's a way we can make it as painless as possible by entering into some kind of agreement, it's mutually beneficial."

Right now there are six businesses in Chesterfield County that are on payment plans to pay its taxes and would be able to keep its license while paying off that debt.

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.