Esrati’s small business vs. the IRS

Sunday morning the Dayton Daily News will have a piece about the five city commission candidates. I already know that the piece about me is going to mention some IRS tax liens. This is part of owning a small business. If you’ve been in business for yourself, you won’t bat an eye. If you’ve had a career working for the man, or for the government, you’ll sit and say he’s irresponsible and unworthy of my vote. So be it.

The amount is relatively minor- less than $5,000. About $2,000 of that is from some sort of audit, where the IRS claims my 2005 and 2006 returns were filed late, and somehow this warrants $1,000 fines for each. $1,500 is a payroll tax deposit that I didn’t make last November. I’ve got so many letters, and so many documents flying at me, it’s hard to tell what’s what. I trust everything will be resolved well before the November election. My bookkeeper is working on it. These things take time to resolve.

Originally, this post had a long description of what happened last year. After some prodding from some friends and family, I agree with them- you don’t need to know the details other than this: running a small business is tough, sometimes you gamble on people and give them a chance- and they bite you in the butt.

In the advertising business- the number one way agencies start-up is when some employees walk out and take a major client or two with them. It’s common. I didn’t do that when I started my business. Last year, thanks to my giving someone a chance, it happened to me.

I also found out that credit card companies don’t have to listen to court judgments- and can raid your bank account if they “find for their card holder” something I’m pretty sure shouldn’t be legal. A two-thousand dollar job turned into a zero dollar job months after you’d finished the work and the $1,100 deposit you took- gets hauled back out of your account. Read the  small claims court judgment against Jessica Hartman and Totally Polished: Totally Polished judgment, I won in court, for $1,100, the amount that had been in my account. I’ve learned that collecting on small claims court wins is near impossible. Gotta love the credit card companies. If anyone wants to teach me how to collect, I’ll gladly give you 25%.

My bookkeeper has been communicating with IRS about the fines and some credits we missed. Everything is being worked out, but, if you’ve been in a situation like this with the IRS you know it takes months to just get the straight answers out of them on anything you contest. By midsummer, everything should be straightened out, and the paper will have to find something else to smear me with.

Small business is tough. Besides Gary Leitzell, I’m the only serious small business owning candidate.

And for comparison:

  • Nan Whaley has never held a job that hasn’t been provided to her by the Montgomery County Democratic Party. Between her and Mr. Whaley, who works for Karl Keith, they pull in over $100,000 a year of your tax dollars.
  • Dean Lovelace has been on the City Commission for 20 years with health care, a car allowance and on the side, was hired by the same university that can’t afford to pay its professors enough to live on or pay for health insurance.
  • Joey Williams has been a banker the entire time he’s held an elected position. Until recently he was a regional president at Chase, and made well over $200,000 a year in addition to his commission pay. His wife worked for Cox media for years as a news anchor, making pretty good money on her own. The paper gave her the kid glove treatment when she was involved in an auto accident that caused a fatality.
  • Matt Joseph works for a defense contractor. He was put onto the city commission by the party with the help of his brother Russ, who sees himself as the next Dayton Clerk of Courts.
  • The only small businessman on the city commission is Mayor Leitzell, who was mocked by the newspaper relentlessly at first for being a painter of toy soldiers. Luckily, we’ve now seen that he knows how to solve problems and can get elected despite being outspent 6 to 1 by an incumbent.
  • Jeff Mims has worked in the schools forever and has a pension. He’s also currently elected to the State School board, a job he’d have to quit with a year remaining to take a seat on the city commission. He also has a bankruptcy from ages ago, which the paper may or may not publish.
  • David Greer has a government retirement and works for the Senior Resource Center now.
  • A.J. Wagner has a government pension from his time as auditor and judge. He’s also a small businessman as a lawyer, but part of a bigger firm. It’s not quite the same as 23 years of hanging your own shingle.
  • Joe Lutz could be considered a small businessman, except, it’s hard to tell if his business is any more serious than his campaign. When I looked over his business website it looked more like something a kid would do back in the late nineties.

And, for the record, last year, I paid over six figures to people in wages and taxes and gave them a place to work. It might not equal what Nan has raised to run for office, but, it was creating jobs. I also ran for Congress, which took too much time away from the business as well.

I’ve run my entire campaign for less than what Nan or A.J. spent just on their websites so far (I’ve spent about $3,000, they spent over $5k each on their pop-up campaign sites). My low budget videos for congress won awards from AAF Daytontheirs, well, suck, despite having real money to produce them.

I wish I could have dealt with the tax issues before campaigning began. If you’d like to work with my ad agency, The Next Wave, we’d be happy to do our magic for you. We have seats open for Tuesdays Websitetology seminar, where you can learn how to build a great website and maintain it for a lot less than what Nan or A.J. spent (Nan actually took the seminar years ago). And if you need printing, highest quality at the lowest prices, you can call us too. I’ll be happy to save you money and make enough to pay off the tax bills quickly.

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