The Capitol Hill Current Voice of The Hill reports that “Murky Coffee owes the District 427,395 in unpaid sales tax dating back to November 2004.” This information comes courtesy of Natalie Wilson of the city’s Office of Tax and Revenue. The new number puts Murky Cafe owner Nick Cho‘s debt at almost twice that of what was reported here on Feb. 27.

For those with an unquenchable fascination with the ins and outs of the Capitol Hill Murky demise, here’s an e-mail interview with tax office Deputy General Counsel William Bowie:

1)How did Murky Coffee get to this point?

Answer: While I cannot provide you with specific taxpayer information, generally a seizure will take place if a taxpayer ignores tax deficiency notices we send them, fail to submit financial information to determine if they can maintain a payment plan, fail to meet with us to discuss the tax situation and fail to stay current on there tax obligations while discussing there delinquent situation, then they are candidates for a seizure. Also, if it involves delinquent sales tax for multiple periods they will also be candidates for a seizure.

2) What prompted you to move on Murky now? It’s been a couple of years, right?

See answer for #1

3)What are Murky’s options?

Answer: Pay the outstanding sales tax delinquency.

4) Will the Murky in Arlington be effected? Why or why not?

Answer: We have the option of pursuing the assets of a delinquent taxpayer wherever they may be. There is a legal process for doing this and this is an option we would look at executing.

5) What will happen to the property if owner Nick Cho is unable to pay?

Answer: If the taxpayer fails to pay the liability the seized assets owned by the taxpayer will be auctioned.

6) Did Cho receive any sort of warning on the morning of the seizure?

Answer: Before we seize taxpayer assets they generally will receive multiple notices and calls warning them of the consequences for failing to come into tax compliance.

7) Cho’s place was raided around 10 a.m. on a Tuesday. Is it usual practice to do this sort of thing during business hours? Why or why not?

Answer: If the establishment is open during normal work hours then that is when we will do the seizure. We have commenced doing some seizures of businesses that are only open after normal business hours. i.e., nightclubs, restaurants only open for dinner.

8) Cho said, “It’s like when you get caught speeding, was i speeding? Yes. Does this feel like bullshit? Yes.” What’s your take on his angst?

Answer: If a taxpayer knows he owes us sales tax monies, receives notices of such and still fails to make arrangements to pay, then they should know what the probable outcome will be. Sales tax monies are monies the merchant hold in trust for payment to DC government. Those monies are used to pay for city services. The merchant has no right to spend those monies for their own purposes. It is against the law.

9) How common is all this?

Answer: Unfortunately, as business tax delinquencies increase, particularly for failure to pay sales tax, our tax seizures will increase.

—Rend Smith