Little did John Semeyn know when he took over the reins of his fourth-generation family-owned business in 2017, that trouble was ahead. As the new president of Midwest Supply, a wholesale distributor of HVAC-R equipment and service parts based in Traverse City, John’s first year as president and owner was smooth sailing. John had a new team, including a new accounting department with a new software system. All was well until their year-end financials revealed a big problem; they hadn’t been filing their monthly Michigan sales tax returns as required by the State.
“I was new to ownership and to my position as president of Midwest with a complete changeover of staff in our accounting office,” said John. “We didn’t know we were supposed to be filing our sales tax returns on a monthly (rather than annual) basis. As soon as we realized what had happened, we reached out to State Treasury to explain.”
Needless to say, John did not get much sympathy from State Treasury. “I told them we were sending in a substantial check and that we just needed some time to get things worked out with our banks so that we could pay the rest of the tax liability,” he said. Treasury denied his request for more time; Midwest Supply was on the hook for nearly $28,000 in penalties and interest charges.
“I felt like we had done everything we could,” said John. “That’s when the Michigan Chamber just happened to call me. When I explained what was going on, they said, ‘Hey John, we think we can help you.’ The Chamber immediately put me in touch with a tax advocate at the Treasury Department who then went to bat for us to help us resolve the tax penalties.”
Thanks to the assistance from the Michigan Chamber, Midwest Supply was refunded $28,000 from the State. “The Michigan Chamber made an ally for life,” said John. “As a small business, it is a huge comfort knowing the Chamber is a phone call away.”