VANDALIA – Four businesses in the Butler Township Miller Lane Business District Joint Economic Development Zone (JEDZ) have been sued for failure to file tax returns and pay taxes.
The City of Vandalia has filed suit in Vandalia Municipal Court against Bob Evans Restaurant, Hooters Restaurant, T-Mobile, and Wireless Express, LLC (doing business as the Sprint store) alleging that none of the businesses have filed returns for 2014, 2015, and 2016 to date.
Lawsuits represent one side of a dispute.
The suit says that Vandalia tax officials cannot calculate an exact amount of taxes owed, but expect it to be less than $15,000 for each entity.
“Because the Defendant has failed to file returns for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016 to date, the Plaintiff cannot accurately assess the tax amount owed by the Defendant, but Plaintiff believes it does not exceed Fifteen Thousand Dollars ($15,000.00)” the complaint reads.
The JEDZ was approved overwhelmingly by township voters in 2013. The JEDZ imposes a one percent tax on earned income of employees in the JEDZ as well as a one percent tax on the net profits of businesses in the zone.
Ohio law requires townships to partner with cities because townships are prohibited from imposing an income tax.
“The Butler Township Miller Lane Business District Joint Economic Development Zone Contract entered into between Butler Township and the City of Vandalia states that the City is responsible for administering, collecting, and enforcing the income tax on behalf of the Zone,” said Vandalia Law Director Gerald McDonald in an email.
Documents received as part of a public records request show that Vandalia officials have made repeated efforts to bring the businesses into compliance.
Those efforts began in March, 2014 with a request for a filing for the month of January, 2014. At least eight letters have been sent to each of the businesses or their corporate offices.
In February, 2015, McDonald sent letters to each of the businesses setting a March 5 deadline to contact the JEDZ Tax Administrator, Bridgette Leiter.
“While we will not hesitate to file in court, it is our sincere hope that the time and expense of litigation can be avoided by all parties,” McDonald wrote.
“We have given the businesses plenty of time to get their affairs in order and come into compliance,” said Butler Township Acting Administrator Erika Vogel. “We have made good progress with several other businesses who had not been in compliance, but we still have these who have not paid.”
Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.