Sales tax violations are heavily enforced and regulated by the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance. A simple tax failure can result in civil liens, and criminal charges, if you intentionally fail to report your accurate gross sales on sales tax returns in order to lower your sales tax obligation.
Depending on the situation, it’s possible to get charged with crimes such as Grand Larceny, Criminal Tax Fraud, Forgery, and even Offering a False Instrument for Filing.
Penalties can include jail time, restitution of sales tax owed, and fines.
Ignorance of the law isn’t a defense, and owners who make mistakes will find that this is not a defense in Court either. Every state requires that proof be shown that you intentionally, or willfully, failed to remit the proper amount of sales tax due.
Sales tax fraud is common in most industries. Many in the restaurant industry, will place cash into the register drawer without ringing in the sale. Sometimes, tax investigators will go undercover, and pose as buyers. As they build a relationship, they’ll ask to see sales records and receipts for the bar – and ask whether sales are being underreported for tax reasons.
Owners who are looking to increase the restaurant’s purchase price will admit the sales tax deviations, and then find themselves in a criminal investigation!
Other common stings include undercover agents trying to sell illegal alcohol, and/or cigarettes, to bar and restaurants.
The best practice for a business owner is to avoid all sales tax violations. You should hire a bookkeeper, and accountant, that you trust to record all sales.
If a lien has been filed against either you, or your business, or if you’ve been criminally charged for failing to pay the sales tax owed, call our law firm.
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