Putting Taxes Back Into the Community | TheUnion.com

Putting Taxes Back Into the Community

The Union photoYou can see Robinson Enterprises, Inc's service station and equipment from Highway 49 in Nevada City.
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Local businessman Lowell Robinson has a scheme to put taxes back into the community. How does he do it? Well, he spilled the beans recently at a meeting of the Economic Resource Council in Grass Valley.

To back up a little, Robinson Enterprises, Inc. is a company that Lowell started 54 years (he’s 74 now and the president) ago. Today the conglomerate is into timber harvesting, construction, heavy hauling, excavating, and petroleum. You can see their service station and equipment from Highway 49 in Nevada City. This big company (20 million dollars in gross sales in 2002 and 180 employees last summer) pays a lot of fees and taxes to the city and the county.

But Lowell wanted to pay even more, or to be more precise he wanted to see that the local governments would get more from certain transactions. Why? Because he wants to see that in this era of shrinking budgets that “our county gets its fair share. It’s skinny enough, what with the state siphoning off what it does. I’d like to see it come back to where I live.” This, from a man whose family has been in this area for five generations.

Okay, so what is the scheme? “Most of what we buy,” says Lowell, “I buy resale and then pay the sales tax here in Nevada County. For example, I bought a big excavator in Stockton recently ($80,000 worth of machine). I bought it resale, so the $6,000 in sales tax came back here. Of course, you have to have a resale permit to do this, which we do because we sell things. A lot of sellers don’t like this. They say it screws up their books. But then I threaten not to buy it.”

In 2003 alone, Robinson Enterprises paid a whopping $344,889 in sales tax, says comptroller Terry Spreier, a large part of which came back to the city and county because of buying things with the resale permit.

Lowell is proud of his company and gets a little feisty with those who’d like to see his operation, which they consider an eyesore, moved to a less visible location. “Well, we were here before the freeway,” he counters, “and we’re not going anywhere.”

Some of the equipment Lowell buys, he says, can go up into the mid six figures. Imagine what the sales tax is on that.

Robinson Enterprises, Inc.

Nevada City, CA

(530) 265-5844

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