Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Help Me Howard: 2 for 1
Two big bills. Two furious South Floridians. Both are calling Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Imagine walking out your front door and seeing your yard filled with old tires.
Dago Lopez: "About 72 used tires thrown right in the driveway."
Dago's family owns a home on a busy street in Miami Shores. The tires were dumped quickly between 9:00 and 9:10 in the morning.
Dago Lopez: "I would like to get the tires removed and not have to pay for this."
And since no one saw who dumped the 72 tires, guess who their new owner is.
Dago Lopez: "Apparently, now when the tires are on our property, it's our problem, and we have to dispose of them properly."
The news gets worse. You can't just throw 72 tires in a landfill; you have to pay to recycle them. Dago was given prices from $5 to $8 a tire.
Patrick Fraser: "$576. So that's one of those where you are the victim twice."
Dago Lopez: "Correct."
But does the victim of a crime have to pay to clean up the crime? Let's bring in Mr. Finkelstein.
Howard Finkelstein: "Under these circumstances, the victim has to pay, because the law is not concerned with who dumped the tires, only getting rid of them. The only way Dago can avoid paying is to find the dumper and to force them to haul the tires away."
Now on to problem two: if you want an example of a small business, walk this way.
George Valeus: "It's a check cashing store, where we do multiple services."
George's small check cashing store is inside a thrift store, a business so small that if a customer brings in a big check, George takes it to a larger store to cash it.
George Valeus: "I pass that check on to him."
Patrick Fraser: "So technically, you didn't cash that check."
George Valeus: "Exactly. Technically, I didn't cash that check."
But the Florida Office of Financial Regulation said, George had to report the big checks he took to another store. So they sent their auditor in to look at his books, then sent George the bill for the state employee's time.
George Valeus: "$560.34 for the two days that he worked here. He charged me $18.50 per hour, which I don't make myself."
George says, he pays for a license and pays taxes to pay the auditor's salary and shouldn't have to pay again. The state of Florida says, George is wrong. Howard, who's right?
Howard Finkelstein: "It may seem unfair, but when the state does a routine audit of a license holder, the license holder is responsible to pay the cost of the audit, even if it is determined that they did nothing wrong."
When I spoke to the Office of Financial Regulation, they told me that even if George did not cash checks totaling over $10,000, he had to report it, because he handled the checks. Not only does he have to pay the $560 for the audit, the state may now fine him $1,000 for the misunderstanding.
Patrick Fraser: "They're full of water."
Dago Lopez: "Yeah."
Patrick Fraser: "So if you don't get them out of here soon..."
Dago Lopez: "I'm pretty sure we're going to have a nice little mosquito infestation."
Better news for Dago: I found a company that would haul the tires away for $1.60 each. He outdid me and found a company to take them away for $1.50 apiece. Unfortunately, the piece of work who dumped them here got away with it.
Dago Lopez: "I would love to have the people that did this get caught."
Patrick Fraser: "Who dumped the tires? Police don't think it's a tire store. They think it's the people the tire store hired to haul away the tires. As for George, he says, he is sending the state the $560 for the audit and is hoping they don't hit him with that $1,000 fine as well.
Tired of troubles rolling over you? Dump them with us. We don't charge to pour over your paperwork, and we ought to be able to come up with a solution.