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Murky Coffee on Capitol Hill yesterday received a visit from authorities with the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue. The revenue cops shut down the popular Eastern Market hangout at around 10 a.m., hustling out customers and taping notices to the cafe windows.
Murky, it turns out, owed some back taxes.
“It’s like when you get caught speeding,” says owner Nick Cho. “Was I speeding? Yes. Does this feel like bullshit? Yes.”
“It was old sales tax stuff that we missed,” Cho explains. “From there, the penalties and fines kept growing.” According to court records, Cho’s debt stands somewhere around $220,000. Though he knew something like Tuesday’s seizure could happen, the chief barista was surprised by the raid. He’d been negotiating with tax officials, and though they were playing “good cop, bad cop” with him, he thought the talks were going well.
Cho hopes to re-open Murky in the next few days, and though he thinks the tax office went overboard, the coffeephile, whose crackerjack barista team recently took home a second place trophy in a Mid-Atlantic barista competition, mostly blames himself. “I’ve got to live up to my responsibility,” he says. “That’s all there is to it.”