California car wash owner sends 4 cent check to IRS

Midtown business owner Aaron Zeff has settled his beef with the IRS, resolving an issue that drew national media attention after we wrote about it Saturday.

"We're moving forward," he says, after sending the feds a check for 4 cents — and additional checks to cover $202.31 in interest and penalties.

Zeff, the owner of Harv's Metro Car Wash, was upset last week after two IRS agents visited his business to collect on the debt.

He couldn't understand how a 4-cent debt could generate so much in penalties and interest.

He now thinks he may know the answer. It didn't.

What most likely happened, he says, is Harv's was late on a large quarterly payroll tax filing.

Penalties and interest then were assessed. When the late payment was received, it wiped out all but 4 cents of the payroll obligation, but left the interest and penalties in place.

What's still a mystery is why Zeff was never informed about the tardy payment (and resulting fees) before last week's visit by agents. One possibility: He changed payroll services several years ago, and the old firm may have received notices but didn't forward them.

In any case, he still thinks the agents' visit was "inappropriate – whether it was for 4 cents or $500."

But he tells us he's glad the issue was resolved – and he finds himself uncomfortable with the online anti-government firestorm his case generated.

He reports that he's been "inundated" with interview requests from national media organizations but hasn't returned their calls.

"My goal," he says, "was not to become the next Joe the Plumber."


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