Complaint alleges company managed by District 15 Assembly candidate Buffy Wicks failed to file locally

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Updated 7/20/2018: this article has been updated to include state Assembly District 15 candidate Buffy Wicks’ full quote.

The city of Oakland received a complaint from a local citizen about the tax filings of Rise Strategies, LLC, an Oakland-based for-profit company managed by California Assembly District 15 candidate Buffy Wicks.

The complaint alleges that while Wicks, an Oakland resident, registered Rise Strategies with the California Secretary of State on July 11, 2016, she has not registered the company with the city of Oakland. According to the complaint, Wicks did not pay the city’s registration fee, a gross receipts tax for 2016 and 2017, penalties and accrued interest.

“We demand an investigation into Rise Strategies and business owner Buffy Wicks to determine if they have been paying their fair share of taxes and fees to the city of Oakland,” said issuer and Oakland citizen Angela Shannon in the complaint.

Rise Strategies has a current business certificate with the city of Oakland valid through December 2018, according to Andy Best, principal revenue analyst for the city of Oakland Bureau of Revenue Management. The complaint, however, also concerns tax filings for 2016–17.

Wicks said in a statement that she “recently” found that she had missed the two-year-old paperwork deadline to locally license her business.

“It has recently come to my attention that I missed the deadline to file paperwork with the City of Oakland for business license operations,” Wicks said in a statement. “I’m taking all steps to resolve this completely. I’ve filed the necessary paperwork and paid the total amount due. I regret this error.”

Wicks ran against 11 other candidates for the state Assembly District 15 seat, which covers most of Alameda County as well as Contra Costa County, and secured a lead in the race with 31.1 percent of the vote. She will be running against current Richmond City Councilmember Jovanka Beckles in November’s general election.

“I’m interested in this because I work with homeless people, and every single day, I see the impacts that local and state government policies have on human lives,” Shannon said in an email. “This community is concerned with true political accountability and I think it deserves the best and most representative representation it can get.”

According to the complaint, Rise Strategies is currently listed as active with the California Secretary of State’s office. The company is a public affairs and advocacy business that is classified under the professional services category and is thus not exempt from paying Oakland’s business tax, which is required for businesses in that category whose gross receipts are greater than $16,667.

Filed under Wicks’ management alone, Rise Strategies earned a gross revenue of more than $100,000 in 2017, according to its filing with the California Secretary of State.

While Wicks said she is “taking all steps” to resolve this error, including filing necessary paperwork and paying the amount due to the city, Shannon held that Wicks should be accountable for her actions.

“I just want to know how Buffy Wicks can represent a community if she isn’t paying her fair share of taxes in it,” Shannon said in an email.

Contact Alexandra Reinecke at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @arhine9.

Correction(s):
The headline accompanying this article incorrectly stated that a complaint alleged that Buffy Wicks had evaded taxes. In fact, the complaint alleged that Wicks had failed to pay taxes.