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IRS harassing comic book store owner

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IRS harassing comic book store owner
Corner Comics is probably just like any other comic book store, except it faces the possibility of being put out of business by IRS for no particular reason at all. Comics blogger Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag brings us the sad story:

The owner of my local comic shop, Paige Gifford, was approached by the IRS in March for a “compliance audit”. The brand-spankin new agent they had put on her case didn’t believe she could make a living selling comics. Once she was able to prove that she was in compliance, and not selling something on the side, and that yes, she did make a living selling comic books, the agent went after her inventory. He said that he knew how much baseball cards are worth, and so old comics must be worth a lot of money. He estimated how much her backstock was worth (based on his own bizarre calculation). He then told her that she hadn’t paid taxes on her inventory, and that she owed $14,000 in taxes. She’s a small business owner. $14,000 is a lot of money. So she got some help. At times the thing seemed almost resolved. But the IRS is determined to run her out of business. Within the last week she was told that she cannot have any backstock of comics. She has to destroy her backstock – shred or burn every comic book – by December 31st in order to get out of the debt. And she needs a receipt to prove that she destroyed the comics. Otherwise, she owes the IRS $14,000, and will owe the IRS an inventory tax every year from here on out. Even though her lawyer and accountant are convinced that she’s completely in compliance with every pertainable law.

You can read the whole post here. The store’s owner, Paige Gifford, also weighs in with her version of events here. According to Gifford’s lawyer and accountant, she’s in compliance with the law and doesn’t owe the money. Not that the IRS cares.

The consensus seems to be that if this law were rigorously enforced, it would drive every used bookstore and comic book store in the country out of business. I would think it would have deleterious effect on used CD stores as well. No one can actually point to anything the store owner has done wrong, yet she’s being put through a living hell for no reason at all. Oliver Wendell Holmes once said “Taxes are the price we pay for civilization”. If that’s the case, then the IRS seems to be trying to turn Paige Gifford into the most civilized woman in America.

Note: you can contact the Senators for Washington state here and here. A letter to one or both of them help Ms. Gifford and bring some much-need attention to the dangerous precedent this case sets.

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About Chris Puzak

  • Well, I would have to know more to form an opinion. All you have are some very partisan perspectives. Seems to me that there would be appraisers for any collectibles the proprietor of the comics shop has in stock or sold. So, a taxable value could be set without relying on subjective estimates. Nor do I find the thought of a comics shop all that rare. I’m aware of several and a few that sell only zines, such as Reading Frenzy in Portland.

  • There’s an update to the story here
    . The owner’s going to be shredding the books because she can’t afford to fight the IRS.

  • Blogfather? Sounds like a guy who gets himself invited to a group blog and then starts breaking kneecaps until everyone agrees to make him the administrator. Anyway,Jim Henley is indeed covering the story as are Franklin Harris
    and The Comics Journal
    . I haven’t seen any sites like Comicon
    mention this yet, but hopefully they’ll realize that this is really important news.

  • My blogfather Jim Henley is also covering this on Unqualified Offerings http://www.highclearing.com/archivesuo/week_2003_12_07.html#004797