JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Every business from the landscaper to the hairstylist is required to pay a local business tax.
"It is a tax for the privilege of doing business in Duval County," said Sherry Hall.
But as we found out, many are not paying it. Hall is Chief Administrative Officer with the tax collector's office. "There are some who let their accounts go into delinquent status and we do stay after those accounts to try to collect them," she said.
We wanted to know who the worst offender is. Hall said that was not possible because of the way the data is collected. She did say that this year there is $1.7 million dollars in unpaid business taxes.
The unpaid amount is approximately 28 percent of the local business taxes owed to the city this year.
The individual amount varies based on the type of business and the number of employees. The law does allow some exemptions.
"We fully expect everyone to their local business tax and will much to make sure these funds are collected," said Hall.
Some have been delinquent for quite a while. Hall provided a document showing the cumulative unpaid amount is $3.9 million. Two and a half million of that is what's owed the city over the past five years.
"We do not have statutory enforcement authority but we do have inspectors and those inspectors work these accounts on a daily basis," said Hall.
That means all the tax collector can do is send notices and inspectors to the business.
Ed Pechacek is starting a construction business and paid his business tax of $350. "I just want to keep it all legit for everybody," he said.
Pechacek believes it is only a matter of time before the tax evaders are caught. "Eventually it's going to come back on them and I wouldn't want to be in their shoes," he said.
The unpaid local business tax adds up to a lot of money not going into city coffers.
Hall said her office is aware of that and will continue to send out notices with late penalties and inspectors knocking on doors.
She said if the business is out of business the tax collector will delete the account, but those still in business, if they're not exempted, need to pay up.