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Before I get started, I’ve to mention that I don’t have a law degree and that I like all the lawyers that I know.

In 2013 I received two questionnaires from the Revenue Collection Bureau, Inc. in Philadelphia. The letter mentioned something like Ops Divina has “been identified as potentially non-compliant with Title 19 of The Philadelphia Code relating to the acquisition of a business privilege license and/or the filing of requisite tax returns promulgated there under.” Now there are a lot of things that I don’t know, but I’m 100% sure that I don’t owe any taxes to the city of Philadelphia. The letter looked like a scam or fishing expedition. So I ignored it. Right before Christmas 2012 I got a registered letter from Tina Lawson, Esq. suing me in municipal court of Philadelphia for failing to file a tax return or failing or refusing to pay taxes. Amount due was $12,000.00 covering 2008 – 2013 plus $73.00 for court costs. Most likely this whole issue is related to a client that we worked with: a non-profit with offices in Philadelphia and New York. I only dealt with the New York office and they closed their operation mid-2012.

I hired a lawyer to deal with this issue. The first step was to fill out the questionnaire and contacting the people at Revenue Collection Bureau, Inc. Like in the movies, the case was closed in the 11th hour before the court hearing. Even knowing that the suit was frivolous, it was still a relief. Now the frugal and law abiding readers will ask about recovering the money that I’ve to pay for the lawyer. Here is the quote from him: “[Negative –] Is that there is no chance to recover fees because of it being a governmental party and the hearing was administrative. They had the statutory right to set the hearing when you did not reply.” On the other side there is no shred of evidence that we ever did business in Philadelphia or something in this direction. Just a 1099 which was obviously sent to a New York address.

What is really galling is that the law community is obviously able to kind of feed itself. Here is the racket for any state or bigger city: Approach a law firm or some other agency and promise them a big cut of potential collections. Send them the full database with all 1099’s filed by organizations within their borders. The agency then sends questionnaires to all out-of-state 1099 recipients questioning their tax compliance. Every entity that doesn’t reply, gets automatically sued in local court. The out of-state companies have then to hire local lawyers to fight or settle the lawsuits. The local economy wins and the out-of-towners are the suckers. Too bad that the law firm that I hired is located in NJ. But hopefully they spend some money in Philadelphia.