HARRIS COUNTY, Texas - Local attorneys, a bus company and a former nightclub are among people and businesses that haven't paid $90 million in taxes over the past few years, according to Harris County Tax Collector-Assessor Mike Sullivan.
"It's important if it is $100 or $100,000. I was elected to collect taxes," Sullivan said.
Sullivan released a list of people and businesses who the county has had trouble collecting money from in recent years:
- The Remix Club at 3520 Old Spanish Trail owes $8,502.11 from years 2011-2014
- Midni Blue Trucking Inc. at 9305 Rockmore Drive owes $36,300.33 from years 2010-2014
- VIP Power Net Inc. at 6776 Southwest Freeway owes $27,074.32 from years 2008-2014
- S. Aftab Sharif Atty at Law at 6161 Savoy Drive owes $16,164.28 from years 2005-2014
- Eco Cleaners at 2620 S. Shepherd Drive owes $19,680.68 from years 2005-2011 and 2013-2014
- Eco Cleaners at 3601 Westheimer Road owes $2,990.68 from years 2005-2013
- Norman Walker/AC Appliance at 1028 N. Shepherd Drive owes $23,094.82 from years 2005-2014
- Samuel Milledge at 10333 Northwest Freeway owes $41,286.36 from years 2005-2013
- Norman J Silberman Attorney at 917 Franklin Street owes $16,433.99 from years 2005-2011 and 2013-2014
- Tierra Nueva New Land Tours at 10554 E. Hardy Road owes $16,828.15 from years 2012-2014
- Waverly Nolley at 0 Cortlandt Street owes $115,470.34 from years 2009–2014
UNPAID PROPERTY TAXES
Waverly Nolley nearly saw a vacant piece of property at Cortlandt Street and East 13th Street auctioned, one he owns next to his Houston Heights home. Sullivan's office told KPRC 2 News that he owed $115,470.34 for tax years 2009–2014 on the corner lot, which has a 2015 HCAD value of $333,007.
"Nolley has filed a temporary restraining order to stop sales in October 2014, December 2014 and June 2015," Justin Concepcion, a spokesman for the tax assessor's office, wrote to KPRC 2. "In October, he posted a $2,000 bond, in December a $10,000 bond and in June a $40,000 bond with the District Clerk's office. At the end of June, we had orders signed by the court to withdraw all the funds. After the orders were signed, we called the clerk to check on the status and were told the $40,000 check had bounced."
The property is an unimproved lot, except for an above-ground pool and trampoline, Concepcion said.
The property was set to be auctioned off at a county tax auction on Sept. 1. However, at the last minute, Nolley arrived at the auction with $48,000 in cashier's checks just hours after a tax judge told him if he came up with that amount of money, and agreed to make monthly payments for the remaining tax due, the sale would be stopped.
Nolley brought two checks for the required amount and the property was not auctioned.
Nolley told investigative reporter Jace Larson that he simply followed the law.
"I told you it was going to be taken care of per the law and that's how I was able to do what I do," Nolley said. "I do know the law."
THE COLLECTION PROCESS
Sullivan said collecting from property owners and businesses can be tough, but his office does what it can.
When a property owner doesn't pay, the land can be sold at a tax auction. When a business doesn't pay business tax on items such as computers, desks or vehicles, Sullivan's office can ask that property be seized.
His office uses that only as a last resort, he said.
PAYMENT PLANS ALLOWED
Harris County residents who have trouble paying the tax due can often work out a payment plan with Sullivan's office. Click here for more information.
If you have a tip or story idea for investigative reporter Jace Larson, email or text him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 832-493-3951.
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