published Thursday, November 25th, 2010

State shutters furniture store for tax claim


by Brittany Cofer

Signs with red warning letters are posted in the windows of a Chattanooga furniture store that has been seized by the state for failure to pay its taxes.

NEED YOUR FURNITURE?

If you have furniture that you need to claim at LeatherONE, call the Chattanooga Tax Enforcement Division at 423-634-6288.

Source: Chattanooga Tax Enforcement Division

The signs state that LeatherOne, an all-leather furniture store on Hamilton Place Boulevard, "has been seized for nonpayment of Tennessee State taxes by virtue of a levy issued by the Department of Revenue, tax enforcement division."

Sara Jo Houghland, spokeswoman agency, said because of stringent taxpayer confidentiality laws, she could not talk about the seizure of the business. However, she said that "business seizures normally are the result of unpaid taxes."

"If a business has been seized because of nonpayment of taxes, it will be closed until they have paid what is due, plus any penalties and interest," she said, adding that once the fees are paid, a business can reopen.

Attempts to reach representatives at LeatherOne for comment were unsuccessful.

State government seizes 200 to 300 businesses a year, as many as 50 of them in the Chattanooga area, Houghland said.

Business operators get weeks of notice from the department before a seizure takes place, she said.

"It goes through a whole system if somebody has not paid," Houghland said.

First, the business is contacted by mail, then by a call center and finally by a tax enforcement officer.

"They might call you a few more times, mail you another letter, then they can seize your business," she said. "It's several weeks, and really at that point the taxpayer has been given every opportunity to pay the tax."

about Brittany Cofer...

Brittany Cofer is a business reporter who has been with the Chattanooga Times Free Press since January 2010. She previously worked as a general assignment Metro reporter. In the Business department, she covers banking, retail, tourism, consumer issues and green issues. Brittany is from Conyers, Ga., and spent two years at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga., before transferring to the University of Georgia. She graduated from the university’s Grady College of Journalism in December ...

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