Saturday, February 13, 2016

Bucks County Rep. says state contractor delinquent on taxes

Bucks County Rep. says state contractor delinquent on taxes



The Rendell administration made a big deal earlier this year about its tax-amnesty program, under which individuals and corporations could make good on their delinquent taxes without the usual penalties and only half the interest.

But Rep. Steven J. Santarsiero (D., Bucks) today said that one company that still owes back taxes actually holds a lucrative state contract.

The contractor in question: Staples, which was paid $500,000 in the last fiscal year to supply state agencies with office supplies, according to Santarsiero's office.

Santarsiero said the company has a tax delinquency of $850,000.

"We should not be rewarding a company that isn't paying its taxes with lucrative state contracts," the Bucks County Democrat said. "It's an issue of fairness to the companies and people of Pennsylvania who do pay their taxes on time."

Not so fast, state revenue officials say.

They said the Staples that holds the state contract has a different federal tax identification number - and address - than the one that has a lien against it. They also said that the Staples contract falls under the state's so-called "contractor responsibility program," which requires those doing business with Pennsylvania to be current on their taxes. 

Still, they could not say definitively that the two Staples are not associated.

Staples corporate officials could not be reached for comment.

For his part, Santarsiero said he doesn't believe it matters: "Staples may have a number of different subsidiaries ... If we are going to turn a blind eye to the subsidiaries, then we're allowing companies to use different formations to avoid paying taxes. And that’s not something we would want to do as a matter of policy or as a matter of fairness."

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Commonwealth Confidential gives you regularly updated coverage of the state legislature, the governor and the workings of the state bureaucracy. It is written by Angela Couloumbis in the Inquirer's Harrisburg bureau, based in the statehouse, and by the newspaper's far-flung campaign reporters.

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