In an effort to help Flushing business owners take advantage of “Forgiving Fines: The New York City Amnesty Program” before the Dec. 12 deadline, The Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce hosted a “pop up” amnesty event on Tuesday night on 39-01 Main St.
Staff was on hand to assist business owners reduce or eliminate fines from the city who spoke English, Mandarin, Spanish, Korean, and Cantonese. City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) and Jeff Shear, deputy commissioner at the city Department of Finance, attended the event.
The program is a three-month effort authorized by Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council. The city is forgiving penalties, interest and added fees on violations received by home owners and business owners from multiple city agencies, including the Sanitation Department, Department of Buildings and NYPD. The program runs from Sept. 12 to Dec. 12 and covers unpaid violations that are now in judgment. According to the Department of Finance, there are roughly 1.4 million violations in judgment.
Shear said to date, the Department of Finance has collected $14 million through this program and helped New Yorkers abate $30 million in interest and payments associated with fines and violations owed to the city.
Koo said the program can give a break to businesses that may be struggling to stay afloat.
“Rising costs have led many businesses to view regulatory fines and penalties as the straws that broke the camel’s back,” he said. “The vast majority of small businesses want to comply with the law simply so they can live the dream of running a successful business in the greatest city in the world. Problems arise when fines from overregulation pile up, leaving opportunities for businesses to fall behind in payments. Forgiveness will go a long way for many of the well-intentioned small businesses who are trying to keep their businesses afloat.”
According to the Department of Finance, the amnesty program covers two types of violations: those that do not require corrective action and those that do. Some of the more common violations are illegal posting of handbills or notices, work without a permit, improper disposal of trash or recyclables and failure to comply with an order of the commissioner. Individuals and businesses with judgments containing hearing default penalties can have 100 percent of the penalties as well as interest forgiven and those who attend hearings and do not have default penalties only have to pay 75 percent of the base fine.
John Choe, executive director of the Flushing Chamber, said the pop up event was a way to make the process easier for Flushing business owners.
“This Forgiving Fines program can truly benefit small businesses in Flushing and goes a long way in helping them recover from a financial setback due to fines and violations,” he said. “Hosting an assistance day within Flushing is important because the chamber can offer direct support to local businesses in the district to address these violations immediately and also overcome language barriers, with bilingual staff on-site to help,”
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