Tax bill for a penny adds up to much more

Ross Statham is a disabled veteran and former scoutmaster who says he always strives to live by the book.

He's a paid watchdog, who helps Uncle Sam keep people honest.

"We actually investigate fraud for a couple of government agencies," he said. "It's all about values-keeping your word"

So, when this Brooksville businessman got a notice form the Georgia Department of Revenue, he didn't worry-until he saw the total.

"They came back and said, you owe us a penny -- to which my accountant said a penny?" Statham explained.

With penalties and interest, the total shot up to nearly $800.

He received the notice form Georgia, but he previously lived and based his company there. A tax expert from Georgia reviewed his records and told us it is legitimate, because Statham's one penny tax bill -- was compounded by not e-filing, and filing and paying late. That's how his bill shot through the roof. And tax attorneys say it should be a warning for a lot of businesses (and people) in Florida.

The Florida Department of Revenue will not issue audit assessments for under a dollar, it will still apply big penalties for mistakes that taxpayers may not even realize.

"We've had a lot of issues where clients had tiny dollar amounts that were sitting out there. They didn't know they were unpaid," said tax attorney James Sutton. "They'll send them with penalties of thousands of dollars on it."

Sutton says much of the process is automated, and at least in the past it has been susceptible to errors. In recent years, the state flagged thousands for unpaid taxes by mistake. The Florida Department of Revenue says it has fixed those past mistakes, and generally does not pursue billings less than ten dollars.

Meanwhile, Ross Statham says his tax bill has bene settled, because his payroll service paid the amount in question. 

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