Argonaut Back In Business After Brush with D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue
Joe Englert admits it's all his fault. Englert was hoping to negotiate a deal with the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue on his delinquent sales tax for the Argonaut. The owner says he was in talks with the OTR, but apparently that wasn't enough to stop the office today from revoking the Argonaut's sales and use tax certificate, which prevents the tavern from collecting taxes on food and drink, essentially shutting the place down.
The Argonaut was one of eight restaurants that had their certificates revoked today. The others are INTI on 18th St. NW, Prince of Georgetown on Prospect St. NW, Besta Pizza on Connecticut Avenue NW, Porter's on 19th St. NW, Prince Cafe on Wisconsin Avenue NW, Mendocino Grille on M St. NW, and Cafe Nema on U St. NW. Collectively the establishments owe the city more than $860,000 in back taxes, according to OTR records, topped by Porter's, which owes more than $389,000 in taxes, penalties, and interest.
Once the word came down, Englert says he went and paid off the full amount of his outstanding bill, plus penalties and interest, which the OTR pegged at $62,051.23. Englert says the tax-bill problems date back to a period in 2007 when the Argonaut was struggling. What's more, the owner adds, he had already paid his tax bill for a couple of months for which the city apparently did not have record of it.
The Office and Tax and Revenue, which cannot comment on individual cases, would not confirm Englert's story or payment.
Regardless, Englert says he'll be open for business tonight at the Argonaut. He admits he has no one to blame but himself. "It's all my fault," he says. "They're perfectly right. It's just weird timing...I thought I was in compliance" for trying to work out a deal on the outstanding bill.
Though embarrassed by the public airing of his delinquent taxes, Englert says this is a common issue for restaurateurs. "It happens all the time," he says. "I'd say that 80 percent of the restaurants owe money."