A situation I believed to be violating my personal rights was described here in a recent earlier article. Recapping what's been transpiring…..beginning last year I've been at odds with a Company I choose not to name, and an official in a City that will remain nameless. This is a city other than where I work, or reside.
The Company representatives and City Official have persisted in demanding I sign, under threat of perjury, that a very small income for services I rendered over a period of several years was not earned in that Official's city, though it was paid to me by a resident of that city. Sign the form, or, I must apply for that city’s business license, pay that fee and city taxes with past due interest. Since I’ve repeatedly stated I do not live or work in that city, I have, respectfully, continued to refuse to sign that form. I've said that I perceive this demand, under these circumstances, to be inappropriate, non-applicable to me, and a violation of my personal rights as guaranteed constitutionally.
From the very beginning last year I complied with the company's letter advising me that conducting business in the city required me to have the city's business license and requesting me to phone their office. I repeatedly informed them by phone that I did not have or need that city's business license, because I had not earned the money in that city, did not live in that city, and did not intend to work in that city in the future.
My response was repeatedly disregarded. I continued to be bombarded with letters and increasing numbers of forms beginning with the one for a business license. The forms were to be completed and submitted only if applicable, so, of course, I didn’t submit them. Eventually, a form for me to pay city taxes was added. Then I received an actual statement listing several years with dollar figures due for each year, plus interest for a past due amount, all totaling $200+.
My phone interaction with the Company Representative regarding this matter, initially was cordial -- until my futile efforts to resolve the situation necessitated my speaking with a supervisor. The conversation escalated into my being subjected to verbal treatment using unacceptable words, tone and manner. I determined I would no longer speak with anyone at that Company, so I phoned the City Official who had signed a letter copy sent to me that authorized this Company to represent the city.
I erroneously thought that Official would be concerned about my mistreatment from a company representing his city. Also, I naively believed the City Official would be concerned about possible taxpayer money being expended by this Company trying to collect from me a non-applicable business license and city taxes on monies previously earned elsewhere. I actually thought when I explained the situation that the City Official would quickly bring an end to my being sent what had now become harassing letters with a number of forms to read, others to complete, that did not apply to me. When I received no satisfaction, I became frustrated and angry.
Despite my feelings the City Official and I had several civil verbal phone exchanges over several weeks during the ensuing days. Eventually, we left our comments on each other’s answering machine. The pressure began escalating over a 4 day consecutive period. He daily responded to my calls in which I would rebut the revolving arguments he would present as he defined his perspective of my gradually decreasing options to end this matter. All would be resolved if I signed the form, he said. Each time I strongly stated I did not earn money in that city, did not reside there, would not sign such a non-applicable-to-me form, that none of the other options he offered were acceptable – applying for a business license and paying their city tax bill.
I finally learned how the City acquired my name, but I was also concerned they may have been in possession of personal information about me to which they had no right i.e. Social Security number. I mentioned this once but chose to not pursue that matter. I readily acknowledged being paid by a resident of their city for services rendered elsewhere when he first revealed what the Company Representative and Supervisor had repeatedly refused to tell me – because, they said, this was “confidential” information. They all may have been erroneously assuming my working for a resident in their city was secret, but that was not the case.
Once I knew the basis for the claim against me, I requested an itemized list of where and when the City Official believed I had worked in their city. A telling moment came when I was told he couldn’t give me such a list because they didn’t have one – but they had the information I had been paid monies by their city resident as though that was sufficient.
Incredibly to me, the fact they had no specific supporting documentation about where they were alleging I had actually worked in their city was not enough to result in ending the City Official's demand I sign their form, or apply for a City License and pay the tax bill. My contention was that demanding I sign the form violated my personal rights/constitutional guarantees. The City Official responded differently and discredited my belief as being nothing more than a philosophical difference between us.
Subsequently, I directed the City Official's attention to the fact that since they had no other supporting documentation, and were only in rightful accurate possession of declared payment to me by their city resident, for whom I readily acknowledged working, that they should have asked THAT person to sign their form under threat of perjury – that payments made were for services other than in their city. Again, I stated that the money I was paid was for services performed elsewhere, not in their city.
Further, I said, the person I worked for, and who paid me, was the person they should have contacted in the very beginning. I stressed that the City and the Company should never have contacted me at all, unless the information that person provided indicated I had worked in their city.
The individual for whom I worked returned from vacation, so I phoned the City Official that I would request that person provide a statement to the City and Company that the monies I had been paid were for services other than in their City.
[Later, I learned the person I worked for had informed the city, long before I was ever initially contacted, that the total monies paid to me and a few others had been for services provided in a city other than theirs .]
The City Official rejected my offer of such documentation as not being acceptable. Not only was the documentation unacceptable, but, in fact, I was told that my having refused options the City Official had offered me to sign the form, left me now out of action choices. The Company deadline date, less than a week away, continued to prevail. I was advised that within the next several months a list of names would be given to a collection agency with the implication being that my name would be on that list.
I informed the person for whom I worked of the City Official’s implied threat to include my name on a list to be submitted to a collection agency in the next few months. My employer made several phone calls to the City Official over the next two days, left messages to please call in an attempt to resolve the issue, but received no response.
The time frame for resolving this matter was becoming increasingly shorter since that last letter from the Company had a specific deadline date that was near. The person for whom I worked then phoned the Company, was able to talk with a Company Supervisor who reportedly graciously accepted the information provided and stated my case was closed.
I have maintained the importance of having the City Official also confirm that my case is closed. I don’t want my name “accidentally” appearing on a list submitted to a collection agency and my being subjected to their complications -- then my learning the hard way, after the fact, there had somehow been a “breakdown in communication” between the Company and the City with both saying "we regret that happened." I think it’s fair to say I have a bit of a trust issue that either or both entities will do the right thing.
Two or three days later the person for whom I worked was finally able to speak with the City Official (I don’t know if the Official was returning the call, if the Official finally accepted a new call, or if the Official was contacted at their office in person, as the person who employs me had said they would visit, if necessary.)
The City Official reportedly stated that my case is closed IF the Company has done so. The City Official has not contacted me to report the case is closed, but that’s acceptable to me. I have no desire to force a direct verbal mea culpa in what I have come to believe has become to a city government authority figure an issue of power and control.
This isn’t a game to me, either -- about who wins or who loses. All citizens lose if justice does not prevail. Government officials above all others should be dedicated to that principle. I do have better ways in which I would prefer to spend my time. I would think the City Official could well spend his time at taxpayer expense on more productive projects than what has seemed to me to be intimidation and coercion for monies not even due his city.
Thanks to those of you who previously offered suggestions and support on this issue. Before publishing my original article, I had already made others I thought might be interested in personal rights issues, aware of this matter. I have no idea if my experience has been singular and unique, or if this sort of activity occurs in other cities and states.
I will say this.....I have had no desire to pursue a legal court case, or law suit, subjecting a cash-strapped city to more debt, much less reaping financial gain for attorneys and/or myself. Should my name be given to a collection agency on this matter, under any circumstances, my perspective would be quite different.
In summary, the Company is reported to me by the person for whom I work to have said my case was closed. The City Official is also reported (one day before the deadline) to have agreed to my case’s closure IF the Company has closed it.
I will accept and believe my case is fully closed when I receive a dated, officially signed letter stating that fact from the Company on behalf of the City they are designated to represent.
I can assure you that I will follow-up to obtain that letter if I don’t receive one in a reasonable time.