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Four cent fiasco: Tiny tax debt lands Sacramento car wash in hot water with IRS

1:45 PM, Mar 14, 2010   |    comments
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SACRAMENTO, CA - Sacramento businessman Aaron Zeff is still trying to determine how an alleged four cent debt to the Internal Revenue Service led to an uncomfortable faceoff with federal agents at his midtown car wash.

Zeff said his manager at Harv's Metro Car Wash on L Street was confronted Wednesday afternoon by two IRS agents. Along with the agents came a bill, claiming Zeff owed the government 4 cents from the 2006 tax year.

In the intervening four years, that 4 cent debt ballooned, accumulating penalty fees that boosted Zeff's collective IRS bill to $202.35.

Zeff, who also serves as president of the Sacramento Midtown Business Association, said his books and payments to federal and state governments have always been up to date.

"In legalese, I think it's called ridiculous," said Zeff's lawyer Ashley West. "Four cents. The (IRS) probably spends more gas and time driving down here, not just to collect the four cents, but $200."

West said Zeff has no idea how penalties on 4 cents could climb over $200, but said they're in the process of resolving it. Zeff said he's not at all mad with the IRS.

"There's no malice here," said Zeff. "(The IRS is) interested in doing their job and I'm just interested in staying in business."

Zeff said he planned to use the experience as motivation for a fundraiser next month. On April 15 -- Tax Day -- Harv's will give basic car washes for four cents. Anything paid beyond that will be donated to Sacramento's WEAVE, a shelter that serves victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.

By Will Frampton,


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