Owner and Manager of ABP, based in Centennial
When Paul Archer ran a business in Utah, his finance people spent about 30 minutes a month on sales tax remittance and compliance. He simply paid his taxes through Utah’s straightforward system and moved on.
Now Archer owns a similar business with the same business model in Colorado. But here, Archer’s Director of Operations must spend an entire day each month on sales tax remittance and compliance. And even with a senior level employee dedicating 1/20th of her time to this complicated system, Archer still has faced hurdle after hurdle in compliance.
He actually had to appear in criminal court for an accusation of failure to pay sales tax in a city where he had never sold anything. He had acquired a sales tax license in case he did sell something there, and the city assumed that he was avoiding paying taxes. In order to avoid going to trial or getting a criminal record, Archer chose to pay $150 in court costs to keep his record clean.
Being subject to audits from every home rule city in which ABP holds a sales tax license is a real sore spot for Archer. He recently faced five audits by separate home-rule cities one after another. Each audit consumed a significant amount of time: two weeks of an auditor in his office and many hours after to contest the findings. Often the auditor’s findings were inconsistent with a city’s own taxpayer guide or tax was assessed in complete violation of basic accounting principles. Archer explains, “Contesting the auditor’s findings and the assessment of tax, penalties and interest is time consuming, frustrating, and expensive. Each audit was a severe disruption to daily business operations. Appealing audit findings is equally frustrating and the process is simply stacked against the small business owner.”
Archer has spoken with many local mayors who sympathize with him about the hardship the sales tax system places on local businesses. But as Archer sees it, if cities really want to help local businesses, they will lead the way in simplifying a simply ridiculous system.
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