Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Help Me Howard: Ice Cream
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream .... or something like that. But one South Florida ice cream store owner is screaming after he says a city is forcing him to pay for a delivery license and he doesn't deliver ice cream. Does he have to pay? It's why he called Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
Ike Chang: "Well to be very honest without any exaggeration, I am telling you the real facts Carvel has got the best. I repeat the best ice cream in the whole country."
Ike's favorite is no surprise a year ago he opened this Carvel ice cream shop in Davie on Sterling Road. A tasty business .. a tough business.
Ike Chang: "Days a week 13 to 14 hours a day. I do everything in the store. I have to make my own ice cream."
With money tight, Ike watches his spending which is why this letter from the City of Davie bothers him.
Ike Chang: "It makes no sense at all."
The Town of Davie sent Ike a bill for his annual occupational license that was $67. Then they billed him $80.41 for take out and delivery service.
Ike Chang: "We do not make any delivery service. First of all, we do not have delivery service."
Ike paid the $67 for the occupational license. Then convinced Davie was making a mistake, sent the city a letter saying his customers didn't order take out and he didn't deliver.
Ike Chang: "I sent them this letter with the hope they would solve my problem, they did not help me."
In fact, Ike says the city didn't even respond but then a company from Maryland that does the billing for Davie, sent him another letter and instead of subtracting the $67 he had paid, added it to the amount. Meaning he now owed $214 they then included a warning.
Ike Chang: "They told me they are going to turn over my paper to the collection agency and there will be additional delinquent fees and finance charges."
The guy who works in his ice cream store, seven days a week, by himself to pay his bills is fighting City Hall and not only losing, falling further behind.
Ike Chang: "It makes no sense. You see if they want me to make a donation I will make a donation If I have to make a donation but don't impose on us, a service that we do not have at all."
Ike doesn't deliver ice cream, but the city sends a letter saying he has to pay for delivery service. Howard, is that legal?
Howard Finkelstein: "No they cannot force you to pay for something you don't do. But when you dig deeper legally they can charge Ike."
That's because its a tax. I spoke to the Town of Davie, they then sent a list of business taxes that they charge on page 14. The answer Ike thought he was being charged a delivery fee more clearly, its a take out and or delivery service tax. In other words, because people walk out of the ice cream store with ice cream, its considered take out. A city official then went to Ike's store to explain the confusion. The city corrected the math error and Ike wrote the city the check for $80.41 so customers can take his ice cream and walk out of the store.
It's not a fee for deliveries, it's a tax on take out. But Ike says either way it should go away.
Ike Chang: "Because the economy is bad and everybody is suffering. I am talking in general every small business is suffering."
Patrick Fraser: "Trying to get a government agency to drop a tax? Good luck with that Ike. And when Ike pays that tax, is the city required to provide something? No, just the permission to operate. Welcome to the American way."
Problems giving you a licking? Tired of getting an icy reception? Contact us, we will try to come up with the scoop and lave a nice taste in your mouth.
Contact Help Me Howard:
E-mail: email@example.com (please include your contact phone number when e-mailing)
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at firstname.lastname@example.org