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Tacoma: City Councilman Robert Thoms’ lobbying firm obtains required business licenses following TNT’s report

Post by Lewis Kamb / The News Tribune on March 1, 2013 at 6:53 pm with No Comments »
March 2, 2013 8:24 am

Tacoma City Councilman Robert Thoms‘ home-based political consulting firm has obtained its city business license, according to records Thoms provided via email Friday to The News Tribune.

Thoms’ business partner, John Jolibois, filed the licensing paperwork for The Navigation Group with the city on Wednesday, after the newspaper reported the firm had yet to obtain the required annual license despite operating for at least a year.

Robert Thoms picThe records show Jolibois paid the city’s $90 annual business license fee for both the years 2012 and 2013. The firm’s business license application also indicates The Navigation Group grosses less than $250,000 annually, which exempts it from paying city business and occupation taxes.

Thoms said in an email Friday, “John went to the Tacoma Licensing Office on the 27th to address this once it was known we inadvertently didn’t file in a timely fashion.”

Thoms added that Jolibois also paid $85 for a required city business license in Olympia, where the firm conducts much of its business. It also obtained a home occupation license required in Tacoma, he said.

“This process has been illuminating and I empathize with small business owners because it hasn’t been one or two visits, calls etc to square this away,” Thoms added in an email Friday. “I have learned something and I hope to use this to make the process more streamlined, more intuitive and frankly more definitive for those seeking to open a business.  I will work hard on this issue moving forward.”

Earlier this week, Thoms told The News Tribune he thought his business had its city business license, before referring questions to Jolibois, the firm’s chief operating officer.  Jolibois later said The Navigation Group had not yet obtained a license, in part because he and Thoms hadn’t yet decided where to base the business’ operations.

The TNT’s search of public records found The Navigation Group first registered with the state for a Unified Business Identifier — a 9-digit business registration number — in February 2012, but hadn’t obtained a local business license.   Thoms said in a recent interview that the business is based for now out of his Stadium District home.  Among its past and current work projects, Thoms’ firm has received two $5,000 contracts from Metro Parks Tacoma, and a $42,500 contract from Tacoma Public Schools

The city requires any for-profit business based in Tacoma, or that engages in business activity in the city, to obtain an annual business license.  Firms that register and obtain the license more than 30 days after engaging in business activities can face late-filing fees or other penalties, the city’s tax and license manager has said.

It was unclear Friday whether The Navigation Group paid any penalties, but Thoms noted “John indicated he paid all the fees the clerk assessed him to pay at the counter.”

Jolibois also covered the cost for a “home occupation license,” Thoms said. Tacoma’s Tax and License Division requires businesses operating out of homes to pay a one-time $75 fee for that required regulatory permit.

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