The Domino’s Pizza restaurants at 4804 Dollarway Road and 2300 South Olive Street in Pine Bluff have been shut down by the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration for non-payment of state sales taxes.
Meanwhile, Mayor Debe Hollingsworth said Tuesday that the city intends to aggressively pursue collection of roughly $90,000 that it says the business owes in local sales taxes.
“We will be diligent in collecting our back taxes,” the mayor said. “We have standards and laws to which businesses must adhere. Our city is due the public sales taxes our citizens pay and it is our intention to obtain those revenues. Businesses that don’t pay their taxes are stealing from both their customers and the government.”
The pizza restaurants in question — owned by Bobby Ladd of Pine Bluff — had their doors padlocked by the state Monday. A sign was placed at each location, explaining why the businesses were closed.
The state tax amount owed is considered proprietary information, according to Pine Bluff Convention Center and Visitors Bureau Chief Executive Officer Bob Purvis, overseer of the city-imposed hamburger and hotel levies. But local tax debts are public record, he said, noting that the Domino’s outlets are among nearly 450 businesses in arrears on hamburger taxes here.
“These two outfits are holding nearly $100,000 of the public’s money they’ve taken,” Purvis said. “I can’t say when that debt might be paid, but our position is that we won’t quit trying to collect it.”
Purvis said he has no sympathy for Ladd.
“If the public’s money paid in taxes is eventually turned over to the city, what happens is just what should have occurred in the first place,” said Purvis. “If businesses fail to pay their taxes, the taxpayers are losers because their tax dollars have gone into the pockets of the business people, who are also losers because they wind up losing their incomes off their establishments. One way of another, not paying taxes catches up to people.”
Purvis said Ladd formerly owned just one of the restaurants. He purchased the other from Michael Collins last year. According to Purvis, whenever a person buys a business, he or she inherits any outstanding tax debts on the newly acquired operation.
Ladd filed for bankruptcy in January, Purvis said, but made unspecified local tax payments on the operations in March, April and June. Previously, the Olive Street restaurant was “at least four years” behind on its local tax payments while the Dollarway location was “about two years” in arrears. Purvis said the businesses stopped paying state sales tax “in February or March.”
Purvis — noting that Ladd’s bankruptcy has been dismissed — said there’s an option on collecting the back revenue.
“If I can’t get it here, state law says that the owners of a corporation can be personally assessed a penalty equal to the amount of taxes owed,” Purvis explained. “So, Domino’s corporate heads may be looking at having to satisfy the debt. Individuals are often shielded by corporations, but the state recognizes that someone is ultimately responsible.”
Meanwhile, Purvis is proceeding with writs of execution in which the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office will deliver lien notices demanding the restaurants pay their tax debts or forfeit their equipment.
In December, the Pine Bluff City Council adopted an ordinance that established a daily fine of $500 on any person or entity cited for continuing to operate a business after its license has been revoked for failure to deliver its hamburger tax collections to the city.
Efforts to contact Ladd and Collins were unsuccessful.