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American Tax Funding Forecloses on Pig Iron Press
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Six members of Occupy Youngstown commiserated today with fellow member and business owner Jim Villani, publisher of Pig Iron Press, whose storefront on North Phelps Street was foreclosed on by Florida-based American Tax Funding.
After back taxes for Villani’s publishing company, Pig Iron Press, built up to more than $4,000 from 2007 to 2009, American Tax Funding acquired a tax lien from the Mahoning County treasurer, a common practice for delinquent taxes the county lacks the manpower or resources to pursue.
Villani owes four times that $4,000-plus after ATF imposed a retroactive 18% interest rate. The company also foreclosed on his residence in Boardman for back taxes.
Villani said he can’t be sure how much he owes because he can’t get in contact with anyone from ATF.
“ATF has never communicated with me in anyway,” he said. “They never even notified me or offered me terms of payments. The attorney they have employed in Youngstown will not communicate with me. In the two years this has been going on, I have only gotten one statement and that was in January as to a specific amount. Now they say that amount is higher because they keep compounding the taxes on top.”
Villani’s situation began in 2007 when he stopped paying taxes on his storefront, 26 N. Phelps St.
After paying utilities and business expenses necessary to keep Pig Iron Press afloat, Villani said nothing was left to pay his taxes, something he apologizes for and, in retrospect, said was wrong.
“I do not have a big cash flow in downtown Youngstown and I’ve never gotten any assistance from the city or the bank for my business,” he said, “so I wasn’t earning enough.”
Villani said lawyers advise him ATF is within its right to foreclose, but say the company may not have been allowed to collect the $9,000 Vallani paid ATF last year without granting him time to pay the balance.
“My talks with attorneys are just in the formative stage, so I don’t know if that’s the full way to describe the situation,” he said. “That remains to be seen.”
ATF foreclosed on the storefront in 2010, but Villani filed for bankruptcy, an action he later withdrew, complicating matters.
Now ATF plans to sell the space at a sheriff’s auction, Villani said.
Closing Pig Iron Press would be the loss to the city of an artistic venue and a place where writers and poets meet, said Diana Shaheen, an Occupy Youngstown member.
She has never known Villani, who she described as “giving and caring," to turn anyone away. "He is very supportive of the arts for the area," she said.
The six Occupy Youngstown members gathered outside Pig Iron Press because they feel how ATF handled the foreclosure is unfair, they said.
“I admit it was not correct of me to withhold my taxes,” Villani conceded, “but the property taxes and the way they orchestrated and collected [what I owe] needs to be looked at in this county.”
Copyright 2012 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.