Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Work With a Vengeance

The day started with Dave heading off to Austin for his regular three-day stint and me wrangling the Sprout off to school. When I got home from dropping her off, I realized I had microwaved yesterday's coffee, put it in a go-mug, taken it all the way to school and back without a sip, and now needed to put it back in a regular mug. All for microwaved coffee. Which I microwaved because I am trying to save money. Which I need to save because the City of Atlanta's pound of flesh yesterday was almost more pounds than I can manage. I hope it's not a harbinger of the day. (And can I just say "ewww"? I'm making a new pot and to hell with frugality.)

Yesterday at City Hall getting a City of Atlanta business license took all day, but it's done. I had to go through the Dept of Revenue, the Zoning Dept, the Planning Dept, the Dept of Revenue again, then finally the cashier. After several hours I had a few slips of paper and a Big Bill. Everybody wants their piece of the corpse, er, pie. There are days when I think (no, I absolutely *know*) that it would cost me and my family less if I didn't work. Heck, I have enough of a yarn and fabric stash that I could weave, knit sew, scrapbook (I still haven't done my wedding scrapbook--much less one for Jessie) and garden to my heart's content--probably without ever having to buy another thing.

But that's not What I Do. I run a glass studio and make objects of beauty to enrich people's lives and homes. I make my neighborhood a better place by the existence of my studio and the experiences it offers. I employ five people, adding to their ability to make a living. I give my daughter an example of hard work and perseverance for hard work and perseverance's sake as opposed to financial gain.

Do I sound bitter this morning? I feel a bit bitter. I feel (more than) a bit ripped off by a City Government that needs money and is looking anywhere they can for it--with a poor, but honest, small businesses making a good target for them. Proof of that statement? I have made so little revenue in the past four business tax years that I have had the studio open that my back taxes--even including interest--are almost nothing. However my penalty for not filing a return is $500 *a year*. Had I known I had to register and file not only with the State of Georgia, Dekalb County, and the federal government, but also with the City, I would have done it. I did not know until they told me... four tax years after I opened the business. But ignorance of the law does not mean you don't have to follow the law so I now owe $2,000 in penalties for not filing.

It used to be that the penalty for not filing was 10% of the tax due plus interest on the tax. For a business that makes a lot of money and doesn't cut the government in, 10% is a tidy sum. For a small business that scrabbles along just trying to make it (and which probably doesn't have an accounting and compliance department to make sure all the proper forms and registrations and taxes and fees and, and, and are filed on time) the amount due would be trivial. So who is the government going after by making the fee $500 a year? The big businesses that are depriving the government of a lot of money, or the small businesses who probably owe--at most--$125 in taxes for a year? Bingo.

I got very close to the point yesterday where I said no, I'll just close my studio and lay off all my people. I have had enough being nickle-and-dimed and ripped off by a bloated, greedy, inefficient local government. I will not have a business here. But I didn't. And this morning I reviewed an old post to help bring me back into balance. Yes, I got screwed yesterday, but it's only money. Time to move on (and make another pot of coffee).


Bill said...

It's unsatisfying, but unsurprising. The politicians make noises about supporting local small business, but in reality they are in the pockets of large corporations...

ren said...

yep. yep. went though the same thing in l.a. got around parts of it by selling only out of county and city, but still got tagged pretty hard. it sucks. and it made me not want to try and grow my business.

Lori said...

I feel your pain. Keep doing the beautiful work you do and changing your community. You will be rewarded and YOU are the reward.