City Of Tulsa Is Owed Nearly $6 Million in Sales Taxes

Visit GreenHouse clothing and buy a shirt, and when Bryan Schooley rings you up at the register, he also plays tax man.

"Whenever a business owner like myself collects sales tax, it doesn't go to the business, it literally, you turn around and pay that to the state," he said.

But not everyone is as diligent as Bryan. Channel 8 asked the Oklahoma Tax Commission for the latest figures on unpaid sales tax, and the number was a doozy; $5,810,694.31 was where the total stood as of October of 2013.

"You know $5 million dollars, to me anyway, is a lot of money," said Schooley.

It's also a lot of money to Tulsa city councilor GT Bynum.

"It wasn't until Channel 8 brought that information to my attention that I'd had ever seen those numbers before or was aware of them," he said.

On Thursday the councilor has asked the city's finance department to discuss the topic. Questions to expect?

"Do we know who the main parties are that are causing those? Is it a lot of little ones, or are there a few big ones? And what are we doing to bring those taxes in" he said.

With a current budget shortfall of roughly $7 million, every dollar counts.

"When you have a situation where there are million of dollars in delinquent taxes that haven't been paid, those are police that won't be on the street, those are firefighters that will not be there to respond to a house fire, because we won't be able to pay them because people didn't pay their taxes," he said.

Meanwhile, the vast majority of folks who play by the rules like Bryan Schooley, keep the city humming along.

"The better my business does, the better my neighbor does at their business, the more sales tax we can collect and pay back to the city, the better our city will be.

"It's not fair to all of the good merchants out there that pay their sales taxes and help us fund things like police and fire, when you have a few deadbeats out there that aren't following through," said Bynum.