Non-payment of taxes is theft


Editor, The Commercial:

With respect to Stanley Walker’s recent allegations regarding Mayor Debe Hollingsworth’s misuse of her powers in addressing delinquent tax payment issues with his business, I would like to suggest that these allegations are simply smokescreens for his failure to comply with the law. Neither the fact that his mother is on the City Council and ran for the office of mayor, or his race, has anything to do with this issue.

As reported in The Commercial, Mr. Walker did not pay the gross receipt taxes that he collected from his customers. They were not simply delinquent; they were not paid at all for a period of at least six months. Had the taxes been paid, there would have been no issues for the mayor, or anyone else, to address. Further, according to The Commercial, he was warned four times by the city about the issue, and in two subsequent Circuit Court filings.

It is not like Mr. Walker did not have the funds; they were collected from each and every customer. These taxes are specifically collected at the point of sale, and do not come out of the business profits. They are, in effect, pre-paid by the customers. When they were collected and not forwarded to the proper authorities, they were taken from his business’ customers under false pretenses. In short, they stole from the city and the residents of Pine Bluff.

When you do this, you lose the privilege to do business in the city of Pine Bluff. This is as it should be. I hope that other businesses in similar situations take note and respond accordingly. With the city in financial difficulties, for any business to withhold previously collected taxes is nothing less than theft, and should be treated accordingly.

Dan Wessell

Pine Bluff