Guest post by Douglas E. Knack
What I took away from these stories is threefold.
First, both offices are dysfunctional. Why is it that the offices in our neighboring cities are able to do things that the offices in Norfolk are just getting around to? Both stories have statements from the comparable offices stating similar actions are the norm.
Second, where is the truth? McDonald said that accessing the businesses on the base was never simple. There is now an “unprecedented agreement.” I believe the Commissioner should learn the meaning of words used before she uses them. Based on the comments of other Commissioners, the only thing unprecedented is our Commissioner’s 14 year wait to tap this potential source of revenue. Beth Baker said that the hard negotiated document is not new information, just a document that drafts the existing protocols. In the article about the business tax avoiders, the Pilot was given names of the contractors, apparently. In the article about the employee tax shirkers, those names were not given, because the Treasurer says, “state law says that I can’t.” It seems odd to me that people who receive bills, and don’t pay, are given preferential treatment over people who are not billed. Did these 59 contractors really pay, on average, almost $34,000, as the story alluded? That means each contractor had gross revenues of just under $10,000,000 for the three years she collected back taxes.
The third take away: maybe the offices of the Commissioner of the Revenue and the Treasurer have outlived their usefulness. There may have been a time when they were valuable. Has that time passed?
Doug Knack was a candidate for Commissioner of the Revenue in 2009. A version of this article was printed as a Letter to the Editor in The Virginian-Pilot today.