Business blames tax bill on troubled company

10:29 PM, Jul 12, 2013   |    comments
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(WBIR - Knoxville) A local business is getting unexpected bills from the state, and the owner says they should have been paid by a Knoxville company that was raided by federal investigators earlier this year. 

A letter from Tennessee's Office of Labor and Workforce says Toney Stevens' small business, Rivers Total Car Care, did not give the state any unemployment taxes between January through March of this year. That totaled more than $800. 

"Our job is to fix cars," said Stevens. "Letter said I had back taxes due that haven't been paid, and we had some penalties and interest charges that are due."

At that time, Stevens was using an employee payment system from First Financial Employee Leasing, which is part of Service Provider Group, based in West Knoxville.

That same company was raided by the FBI and IRS earlier this year.

"We subbed our employee payroll that we trusted. A lot of people were with them and it sounded like it would be a good deal," Stevens said.

He said the payroll system they used was designed to send payments to employees and taxes to the appropriate parties, including the state. Stevens said there were multiple withdrawals from the repair shop's savings account.

However in the letter, the state claimed they still didn't get the money.

"I think our only option is to pay the state of Tennessee," Stevens said. "I don't think the State of Tennessee is going to care whether we pay First Financial and First Financial didn't pay them. They're going to get their money anyway they can, and indeed we're responsible for it."

Stevens says this will cost him more than $900, and still wonders where the original money went.

"We're just trying to fix cars, and it sure does make it hard sometimes."

10News reached out to SPG Friday afternoon during their business hours for comment, but never got a call back.

As for the raid, the FBI says no one has been charged; there is no definitive link between the raid and the problems Stevens has been experiencing.

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