Paying fair share to live in a free society

Taxes, after all, are dues that we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society.

&8212; Franklin D. Roosevelt

Last week, Shelby County tax commissioner Don Armstrong lived up to his pledge to conduct the duties of his office fairly and completely; doing anything less would have been a surprise to those that know him best.

Armstrong, a longtime public servant, is one of the fairest men I have ever met. It is his keen sense of fairness that recently led Armstrong to press collection efforts on business property taxes to the fullest extent allowable under Alabama law. He did not do so to be hurtful or mean but because he knew doing anything less would be unjust and unfair to taxpayers throughout the county.

The tax laws of Alabama call for taxes to be levied on any number of things:

gasoline, personal and business income, residential and commercial property, etc. Business property, things like copiers, desks and equipment are also to be taxed according to those same state laws.

But historically in Shelby County, and perhaps in other counties in our state, tax collection efforts for businesses stopped short of what is allowed by state law and that is for the assets of the business to be sold to satisfy delinquent taxes.

Uncomfortable for sure but unfortunately necessary. A personal property auction held last week at a Helena business was a clear sign that the county&8217;s property tax commissioner would not turn a blind-eye to collecting taxes from businesses. To be sure, the new take on collecting business taxes should come as no surprise to business owners as tax bills and reminders have been frequent since last December with an even greater emphasis since May.

The more aggressive stance to collect past due taxes is working:

nearly $26,000 during the last two months alone.

More that 175 businesses in Shelby County are late in paying their taxes out of 2,300 businesses countywide.

No one dislikes paying taxes more than me, personal taxes or business taxes, but I pay them just the same.

In doing so, I know full well that paying taxes is part of the price we as citizens and business owners pay to live in a free society. And it seems reasonable to me that we should all pay our fair share; should we choose not to do so, then we must be prepared to face the consequences