Gracy’s tax debt rises | AspenTimes.com

Gracy’s tax debt rises

John Colson
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” The owners of Gracy’s Uptown, an Aspen consignment store that was shuttered Aug. 15 by state tax collectors, are now faced with a bill of roughly $12,000 for unpaid back taxes, interest and penalties, according to Brad Carner, one of the owners.

Carner, who owns the business with his wife, Karen, said he is hoping to work out a schedule of payments with the Colorado Department of Revenue and will reopen the store as soon as possible, perhaps by Friday.

He said he is turning to his family for help, and that he expects a wire transfer of funds to enable payment to the state once a schedule is worked out.

A hand-lettered sign in the front window of the Hyman Avenue store, right next to the state’s seizure notice, promises that the business will be reopening “this week.”

The state agency closed the business over slightly more than $3,100 in allegedly unpaid sales and wage taxes during certain periods of 2006 and 2007.

The Carners also were alleged to owe approximately $1,200 in unpaid taxes to the city of Aspen, according to Larry Thoreson of the city finance department.

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Thoreson also said that the increase in the money being sought by the state was because the matter had gotten to the point of seizure of the Carners’ business.

Carner said that, because the state changed the locks on the store’s doors, he was unable to get to his books to determine how much money he should have paid in the fiscal quarter that ended Aug. 20. As a result, he said, the principal amount owed went up, as did the penalties and interest owed.

If the delinquent tax bills are not paid off, according to Thoreson, the business and merchandise inside the store will go up for public auction at 11 a.m. Sept. 14 to satisfy the debts to the state and the city.

Steve Tool, a spokesperson for the department of revenue, said the couple were sent multiple notices regarding their alleged tax delinquency starting in 2006, including a “reminder to file,” a “statement of balance due” and “a citation to pay or appear” at the department offices in Denver.

“They had ample notice from the department,” Tool concluded.

Carner conceded that he and his wife had been working with a state bureaucrat to get payments started earlier this year, but said the couple had taken a 10-day trip in the spring without notifying the state that they would be gone.

State officials, unable to get in touch with the Carners, decided they were “not being responsible. That was not our intent, but that’s the way it was interpreted,” Carner said.

He added that “we certainly don’t want to take this to the next level,” meaning court action contesting the state’s claims. “We’re going to try to get this resolved.”

Calling the episode “an absolute disaster” that has “probably been the most difficult week that my husband and I have ever been through,” Karen Carner said earlier in the week, “I’ve done my absolute best to honor my employees and honor my consignors. I would never do them wrong in a million years.”

John Colson’s e-mail address is jcolson@aspentimes.com