It was every businessperson's nightmare.
Arriving at Harv's Metro Car Wash in midtown Wednesday afternoon were two dark-suited IRS agents demanding payment of delinquent taxes. "They were deadly serious, very aggressive, very condescending," says Harv's owner, Aaron Zeff.
The really odd part of this: The letter that was hand-delivered to Zeff's on-site manager showed the amount of money owed to the feds was ... 4 cents.
Inexplicably, penalties and taxes accruing on the debt – stemming from the 2006 tax year – were listed as $202.31, leaving Harv's with an obligation of $202.35.
Zeff, who also owns local parking lots and is the president of the Midtown Business Association, finds the situation a bit comical.
"It's hilarious," he says, "that two people hopped in a car and came down here for just 4 cents. I think (the IRS) may have a problem with priorities."
Now he's trying to figure out how penalties and interest could climb so high on such a small debt. He says he's never been told he owes any taxes or that he's ever incurred any late-payment penalties in the four years he's owned Harv's.
In fact, he provided us with an Oct. 22, 2009, letter from the IRS that states Harv's "has filed all required returns and addressed any balances due."
IRS spokesman Jesse Weller isn't commenting "due to privacy and disclosure laws."
Zeff says he's as offended as much as anything else by what he considers rude behavior by the IRS guys. While at Harv's, he sniffs, "they didn't even get a car wash."
By Bob Shallit of SacBee