RODEO -- A tire business in a residential neighborhood of this small unincorporated town ranks near the top of the state roster of newly crowned official sales and use tax delinquents, according to a taxing agency.
In the state Board of Equalization's most recent quarterly update, published last week, Tirebusters Inc. owes $2,164,002, trailing only Lomita Mobil of Carson, which owes $4.98 million, among the 23 taxpayers added to the list of Top 500 Sales and Use Tax Delinquent Taxpayers.
Tirebusters is one of only two businesses in Contra Costa to break the $2 million threshold on the Top 500 list, trailing only Wells Interiors Inc. of San Ramon's $2.6 million debt that dates back to 2007.
The recent additions appear almost nickel-and-dime by comparison with the now-$18.69 million debt, dating back more than 10 years, of statewide overall front-runner California Target Enterprises Inc. of Downey, and the $17.26 million debt of C & JD USA Inc. of Oakland, a shipping container company that is the Bay Area's top sales and use tax delinquent and a member of the Top 500 since 2010.
A phone call from this newspaper Monday to a number with a Rodeo-Hercules-area prefix attributed to Tirebusters -- also sometimes spelled "Tire Busters" -- on several websites was answered with "All Star Tire." A question about the sales tax delinquency elicited the reply, "None of your business."
The same person answered in a similar vein at another number, this one with a Richmond-area prefix, that at least one other website attributes to Tire Busters.
A cursory Internet search yielded few details of the business other than that it deals with tires. An official at the Board of Equalization, citing taxpayer confidentiality, said he could give no information other than what is available on the agency's website.
The address listed for Tirebusters Inc. in California Secretary of State records is at a house on a quiet residential block of Napa Street in Rodeo. On Monday, a small truck with the words "Tirebusters Inc." was parked in the driveway, alongside several stacks of what appeared to be used truck tires. On Tuesday, another truck was in the driveway, with the lettering "Aal Star Tire."
At least one website lists "Tire Busters Inc." in the category of "Tire Retreading and Repair Shops" at a North Richmond address with the aforementioned Richmond-area phone number. Businesses at the North Richmond site include a trucking company and a scaffolding company; no evidence of a tire business was visible from public areas around the premises Tuesday.
Robert Lazzarini, a Walnut Creek attorney listed in Secretary of State records as Tirebusters' agent for service of process, said ¿Monday that he has not represented the business "for many years."
"I haven't got a clue; I'm not involved with that," he said, commenting on the sales tax matter, adding that he would try to contact the company to get it to remove his name as reference on the Secretary of State filing.
The latest update to the Top 500 delinquents comprises 23 taxpayers owing a combined $20.3 million. It contains one other Contra Costa scofflaw besides Tirebusters: the now-defunct New Pee Wee Muldoon's Bar & Grill in Brentwood, which owes $446,690.
The state Board of Equalization's tax-collection procedures can include installment agreements and in some cases compromise offers. Collection and enforcement actions can include tax liens on real property or even outright seizure of real or personal property, including bank accounts, as well as garnishing wages. Other measures include suspension of an alcoholic beverage license and cancellation of an auto dealer license.
As stern as the possible remedies may sound, their threat appears to have produced limited compliance. According to a March 8 Board of Equalization news release, the top 500 sales and use tax delinquents owe a total of about $581 million. Since the¿ program started in 2007 with a Top 250 list, expanding to 500 in 2011, some 59 taxpayers have come forward and paid $8.79 million.
Assuming that the additions to the top 500 owe roughly the same amounts as did the compliers who graduated from the list, the agency would have collected a little more than 1.5 percent of the combined debt of the top 500.