Shame on the city

Editor:

The city hired the Municipal Auditing Services (MAS) from Fresno an effort to improve its business license tax collections. MAS is paid a bounty for all additional revenue they collect for the city and as such are searching high and low for new tax payments in remarkably aggravating ways. I own a business in Alameda, and pay my city license tax, which is tied to sales (not profits).

I was recently contacted by MAS to pay for a city license for a family trust that does no business in Alameda, and was set up to protect our family assets (which are also not businesses operating in Alameda.) According to the city bylaws, a business license is required "if your firm, employees, agents, or contractors solicited, proposed, represented, sold, delivered, serviced, advertised, or acted in any method or manner with the purpose or intent to solicit or transact business in the City of Alameda." A family trust for passive investment is not a business by this definition.

When I phoned MAS partner Kevin Wiegant’s office to inquire why I was being asked to make payment for a business license for an entity which does not fit this criteria, I was told that any entity filing a statement of information with the California Secretary of State with an address in Alameda is deemed to meet this criteria.

Clearly, this is not correct and amounts to a shakedown for those who do not know the law. All this is done at the behest of the city. More upsetting still is the manner in which the city itself collects business taxes yet delivers no services to business in any way or form that can be tied to the sales of any business.

Shame on the City of Alameda, trying to shake down families and passive retired investors to pay a business license tax for the privilege of merely living in Alameda and protecting their hard-earned assets.

— Randy Friedman