Tax Collector in PBC sends 15,000 cosmetologists letter telling them they may owe a business tax

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The Tax Collector serving Palm Beach county sent 15,000 cosmetologists a letter in the mail informing them they are breaking the law and need to pay up. 

Marisol Marrero can't believe after 20 years as a nail tech, that she's breaking the law.

"Everyone is completely surprised by it," said Marisol Marrero. 

The warning isn't from the state department that inspects nail salons. It's from the Tax Collector serving Palm Beach County.

"Why all of a sudden do I owe some tax?  We were all talking and one of the employees said why don't you call the Watchdog," said Marrero.

We found the letter warns cosmetologists that they may owe what's known as a business receipts tax.  It's basically a tax for doing business in Palm Beach County.

Businesses like the salon where Marrero works owe the tax. Individual contractors, like Marrero, are also supposed to pay.

"We routinely do audits," said Anne Gannon.

Gannon is the Tax Collector who serves Palm Beach County.  She said her office found 15,000 cosmetologists who may owe the tax, but are not paying it.

While Marrero said she never knew about it, others may not have even gotten a tax bill because of an error at the Tax Collector's office.

"We actually didn't send them a bill for two years to be honest," said Gannon. 

The tax varies depending on the size of your business and number of employees, but it's expected to be $33 for most cosmetologists.

"The $33 actually allows the county to keep track of the kinds and numbers of businesses we have.  A lot of people come in and ask for a business tax file because they market to them," said Gannon. 

"A way of them making more money," said Marrero.

We found surrounding counties also charge this tax to independent contractors. The letter from Gannon's office was so confusing and generated so many calls to the Division of Business and Professional Registration, they called the Tax Collector.

After those calls, the Tax Collector updated its website to more clearly explain who owes this tax.


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