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Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector Cracks Down On Tax Delinquencies

Mike Sullivan teamed up with lawyers and constables to pay a visit to one popular bakery that owes thousands in taxes this year.

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  • Slow Dough Director of Operations Thomas Massey answers reporter questions about the bakery’s tax delinquency. (Photo Credit: Florian Martin-Houston Public Media)
    Slow Dough Director of Operations Thomas Massey answers reporter questions about the bakery’s tax delinquency. (Photo Credit: Florian Martin-Houston Public Media)
  • An attorney with Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson discusses the late tax payment from Slow Dough Director of Operations Thomas Massey. (Photo Credit: Florian Martin-Houston Public Media)
    An attorney with Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson discusses the late tax payment from Slow Dough Director of Operations Thomas Massey. (Photo Credit: Florian Martin-Houston Public Media)
  • Harris County Tax-Assessor-Collector Mike Sullivan leaves Slow Dough Bread Co. after deputy constables served the manager with a tax seizure warrant. (Photo Credit: Florian Martin-Houston Public Media)
    Harris County Tax-Assessor-Collector Mike Sullivan leaves Slow Dough Bread Co. after deputy constables served the manager with a tax seizure warrant. (Photo Credit: Florian Martin-Houston Public Media)
  • Officers with Harris County Constable Precinct 7 enter the Slow Dough Bread Co. facility on West Airport Boulevard. (Photo Credit: Florian Martin-Houston Public Media)
    Officers with Harris County Constable Precinct 7 enter the Slow Dough Bread Co. facility on West Airport Boulevard. (Photo Credit: Florian Martin-Houston Public Media)
  • Slow Dough Bread Co. was late paying $13,000 in property taxes and penalties. (Photo Credit: Florian Martin-Houston Public Media)
    Slow Dough Bread Co. was late paying $13,000 in property taxes and penalties. (Photo Credit: Florian Martin-Houston Public Media)
  • Harris County Tax-Assessor-Collector Mike Sullivan, along with tax attorneys and deputy constables, get ready to serve Slow Dough Bread Co. with a tax seizure warrant. (Photo Credit: Florian Martin-Houston Public Media)
    Harris County Tax-Assessor-Collector Mike Sullivan, along with tax attorneys and deputy constables, get ready to serve Slow Dough Bread Co. with a tax seizure warrant. (Photo Credit: Florian Martin-Houston Public Media)

Thomas Massey was in for a surprise when the tax assessor-collector, attorneys and officers with Harris County Constable Precinct 7 showed up at his offices in southwest Houston.

The director of operations at Slow Dough Bread Company quickly agreed to drive to the bank to get a check for the roughly $13,200 dollars the bakery owes in taxes and penalties.

"When they show up with a badge and a gun, people pay attention," Harris County tax Assessor-Collector Mike Sullivan said.

He said the bill would have been about $4,200 less if it had been paid on time.

His office conducts such visits to either collect delinquent taxes or seize property about once a quarter. It's a last resort.

"They've been avoiding paying," Sullivan said. "We've made multiple attempts, site visits, telephone calls, certified letters. We've been given false promises and it's time for this company to pay up."

Massey said he had no idea the company was late paying taxes to Harris County and the Houston Independent School District.

"I talked to the accountant while I was on the way to the bank and there must have been some kind of a mix-up," he said. "Somebody thought we'd paid it and apparently we hadn't."

Slow Dough is known for artisan bread and bakes for several high-end restaurants in Houston.

Sullivan's office said the bakery has been late paying taxes every year since 2012. Massey wouldn't confirm that, but he had this comment:

"We're better at baking bread, clearly, than we are at financial communication."

He pledged to do better in the future.

The Harris County tax assessor's office collects property taxes for 71 jurisdictions, including cities, school districts and utility districts.

Sullivan said altogether they are owed $290 million, not including penalty and interest.

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