Let’s suppose there was a company in Statesboro, Georgia called “Clayton Financial and Tax.” Let’s further suppose that they didn’t pay their property tax bill, and that the business folded. Statesboro tries to find someone to pay the bill, so they put a lien on my business, in spite of my never having been in Statesboro, or having a business address outside of California.
Now, no government entity could be that dumb, right?
Well, Statesboro hasn’t gone after me, but San Joaquin County, California has gone after a Statesboro business. GMP Services, Inc. publishes Statesboro Business and Lifestyle Magazine. Apparently there was another company in Tracy called GMP Services and they didn’t pay their property tax bill. So San Joaquin County has put a tax lien on the Georgia GMP Services, a company that has never been in California. The owner of GMP is not as amused as I was, and is sending a bill to San Joaquin County for the time that he has lost and his costs.
Most likely, this has all been done by computer. The county may be contracting with a collections company; they found a match, and no human looked at the underlying records to see that there were two different GMP Services.
As for the owner of GMP Services, Allen Harkleroad, getting any money, his chances are slim and none (with none the clear favorite). No government agency in California is going to voluntarily pay. Mr. Harkleroad would have to file a lawsuit, and this case would be a tough one.
I do sympathize with Mr. Harkleroad. Tax agencies do far too many computer driven programs, where no human looks at anything until a complaint is received. The problem is that these programs bring in far too much money to go away.
As for San Joaquin County, perhaps they should only look for California entities rather than businesses throughout the country. I certainly hope they’re not going after any Smiths, Joneses, or Foxes.