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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 88774
Experience:  All corporate law, including non-profits and charitable fraternal organizations.
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I am being sued by the City of Long Beach, CA in Civil Court

Customer Question

I am being sued by the City of Long Beach, CA in Civil Court for refusing to pay $200.00 BID (Business Development District) fees. I have paid the business license for the past 3 yrs., but I have not paid the $200.00/yr. for BID fees, because I was not notified of the intent by the East Anaheim St. Bus. Assoc. to set up a BID. Many businesses in my building did not receive notification, because the Suite No's were left off of the mailing. I lost my case in small claims court, so now the City is taking me to Civil Court for non-payment. Out of the $2.4 Million in outstanding Business Licenses fees, including $900,000 in non-payment of fees that were sent to collections, I am among a small group the City is taking to court over late or non-payment of business license fees. In fact the City would gain only $5,800.00 if they collected from those they are taking to civil court; therefore I feel I am being targeted for being a taxpayer advocate in LB. Do I have a case?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking.

I am afraid that under the separation of powers, the city governments are given the rights to levy fees or taxes or enact laws. When a city or government enacts a law or passes a tax, the enforcement power on that particular law or tax is left to the discretion of the city. Thus, if they did enact such a Business Development District tax and it was not paid, the city does have discretion in enforcing the taxes as they see fit.

They did make a mistake if they did not send proper notice addressed properly to you. This would absolve you of any delinquent fees or penalties. However, the city still has a right to enforce their tax and collect and while they are suing only a small group of individuals, I am afraid this is within their enforcement discretion.

As far as paying the fees, you have to weigh the cost to you thus far and into the future against the cost of $200 in order for you to fight over principle of objecting to a new tax or fee. This is simply known as "the economics of law," which can many times differ from the law itself.

As far as the ACLU, they will not get involved unless you can prove the tax is being enforced ONLY based on your age/race/sex/disability and that the city is targeting people for enforcement solely based on one of those reasons.

Similarly, in court, the court will have to uphold a lawfully passed tax/fee under separation of powers unless you can prove that the city is targeting individuals for enforcement based solely on age/race/sex/disability and for no other reason.

Thus, if the money is for a legally passed tax/fee, the chances of you prevailing in court will be very slim and the chances of you expending much more money than is owed in the tax/fee are extremely great. If you cannot prove discriminatory enforcement based only on age/race/sex/disability, your chances here are very small to succeed and that is what you need to consider given everything you have tried to this point has pretty much given you that indication.



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Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 88774
Experience: All corporate law, including non-profits and charitable fraternal organizations.
Law Educator, Esq. and 6 other Business Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.


Thank you for your fast response regarding my question about BID fees in the City of Long Beach.


 


Even though I did not like the answer, I appreciate your knowledge and honesty.


 


Regards,


Kathy Ryan

Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you very much. I truly appreciate customers like you and I really am sorry that the news I had to deliver was not really the best, but I appreciate you recognizing that we are constrained by the laws as they exist.

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