HARVEY, Ill. - The owner of Suggababy’s Bar and Grill, Annette Smith, says she was forced to come up with $10,000 in a very short amount of time.
“He wants it now or the $10,000 by 5 p.m.,” said Smith.
Some business owners in Harvey received a letter that was dated for Sept. 18 saying they needed to pay $10,000 as a security deposit towards the liquor excise tax that same day before City Hall closed, giving them just hours to come up with the money.
“One-hundred percent of liquor store owners didn’t pay the tax, because no one ever knew,” Smith said.
This tax that has been on the books for 12 years and has never been imposed.
“How can I owe you $10,000 for two businesses and I haven’t even been in business that long,” she said.
Annette Smith says her tax does not amount to $10,000 for each business. That’s why Smith and Lynn Hudson Brown added their businesses to this civil lawsuit aimed at the city of Harvey.
The city says the money is a deposit for the back taxes, but didn’t say how long it would take to figure out how much businesses owed. If they didn’t pay up, they were forced to shut down.
The Garbis Law Firm says what’s being done is illegal on the state and federal level.
“It’s unfortunate that he’s shaking down Black-owned business during COVID and now you are throwing salt on top of those wounds.”