On September 14, the New Jersey State Division of Taxation shuttered the train station property and seized some assets of Ridgewood Taxi. But the business is still operating, the owners confirmed with Patch.
An orange sign posted on the door of the village-owned property at the train station reads: "The personal property herein has been seized pursuant to N.J.S.A. 54:49-13A, for non-payment of New Jersey State taxes..."
According to Bill Quinn, a spokesman for the New Jersey Division of Taxation, Ridgewood Taxi (under the incorporated name of Cross County Transport) has had three separate judgments against them over the past 20 years, one dating back to 1993 and the other two in 2010 and 2011.
"The total judgment is $321,766," Quinn said by telephone Friday morning. The judgments, handed down from New Jersey Superior Court, found Ridgewood had not paid its corporate business taxes and gross income taxes, he said.
While Quinn declined to discuss specifics of the case, he said the state typically is willing to negotiate with the accused rather than performing a seizure.
But that's not what happened, according to Ridgewood Taxi Co-owner David Rutler.
"First of all, they took us by surprise," Rutler said of the Wednesday afternoon seizure, which resulted in a loss of mementos but no real operating equipment. "They [the New Jersey Division of Taxation] called us the day before and said they were going to do this. We got a hold of our tax attorneys but they didn't want to negotiate. They wanted 'x' amount of dollars or they were going to shut us down.'
"Ridgewood Taxi didn't owe the taxes," Rutler said Thursday, adding this stems from "old" claims. "They [the state taxation agency] still locked the office up and that lot is owned by the village. Our cars are still operational, the only problem is we need the phone numbers to answer the phones."
For now, Ridgewood Taxi is operating with one dispatcher and drivers are using cell phones. The taxi business is working with the telephone company to restore a telephone line. Until then, Rutler said those needing service should call (201) 286-6964.
"If they feel like they're [the state] not getting a response, they go ahead and do this," said Quinn, stressing that negotiation is always the first route and payment plans are often established for those without enough upfront cash.
Rutler argues the company has been wronged by the agency. "We're a small business and we're not subsidized by tax dollars. Everybody that came to that office was obtained by tax dollars to put 40 people out of work. So they can go and collect unemployment. Unbelievable."
Several of its vehicles at the garage parking lot, which is not owned by Ridgewood Taxi and had no seizure notice Patch observed. According to Quinn, typically, the goal of a seizure is to close operations.
"We'll sell anything of value to reduce the judgment," which includes tangible property. Quinn could not comment if any seizure was made to the Ridgewood Taxi garage, where vehicles and other assets are stored. He said the vehicles could not be taken because they were not owned by the company.
Mayor Keith Killion confirmed the village received notice that Ridgewood Taxi had its assets seized and the train station building was closed, but said the village did not participate in the seizure. The mayor confirmed Ridgewood Taxi has contacted the village to make them aware they're still in business.
Earlier in 2011, the after discovering the taxi company . A short time later, it out of Hawthorne. However, Ridgewood Taxi continued to operate out of the village-owned building at the train station until the state came on Wednesday morning. The company took legal action against the village, which is ongoing and has prevented E&K from moving in.
Killion said although the village owns the facility that was seized, it's in talks with its legal counsel to see what, if any, options it has in using the building. The seizure notice warns any tampering with the building could result in legal penalties.
He said the village could not comment on pending legal matters.
[Editor's note: Full disclosure – Kathy Rutler, wife of Ridgewood Taxi owner David Rutler, is a contributor to Patch. Her status as a contributor had no influence on the reporting of this report.]