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Remitting Sales Tax Can Keep You Out of Jail

  • Jul 9, 2014 | Gail Cole

 These don't exist in real life.

Put another way, intentionally pocketing the sales tax your business collects is like picking this Monopoly card: “Go to Jail. Go directly to Jail.” This is true in every state, particularly Florida.

In 2013, the Florida Department of Revenue (DOR) issued close to 100,000 warrants for erroneously filed taxes, including one to Governor Rick Scott. More than 7,000 of those warrants turned out to be erroneous themselves (the governor’s name was cleared). The department has vowed to be more accurate in the future.

Yet news releases are frequently posted on the DOR website about taxpayers who failed to pay taxes and the dire consequences that befell them. The headlines are chilling:

  • Miami Used Car Dealer Arrested
  • Former Tallahassee Restaurant Owner Arrested
  • Fort Myers Lawn Equipment Dealer Arrested

The list goes on and the word “arrested” is heavily featured. These are true stories, and they’re worth noting.

Take the news release dated June 23, 2014: Orlando Sign Company Owner Arrested. The charges, according to the DOR? He “stole more than $1,500 in sales tax he collected from customers, but failed to send to the state.”

Arrested over $1,500? Business owners may quail. The used car dealer is said to have taken $578,000. The restaurateur perhaps pocketed $46,000. The lawn dealer was arrested over $22,000. Why not $1,500?

The simple fact is, sales tax revenue belongs to the state. If it’s collected and not remitted, a crime has occurred. Criminals end up in jail. Or they should.

Marshall Stranburg, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Revenue, reminds that the “vast majority of Florida businesses” comply with State tax requirements. Honest business people must be protected from “those who ignore the law or intentionally collect and steal taxpayer dollars.”

Don’t let your integrity be called into question. Collect and remit the correct amount of sales tax. Learn how an automated sales tax solution can help.

photo credit: Mark Strozier via photopin cc

Sales tax rates, rules, and regulations change frequently. Although we hope you'll find this information helpful, this blog is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal or tax advice.
Gail Cole
Avalara Author
Gail Cole
Gail Cole
Avalara Author Gail Cole
Gail began researching and writing about sales tax in 2012 and has been fascinated with it ever since. She has a penchant for uncovering unusual tax facts, and endeavors to make complex sales tax laws more digestible for both experts and laypeople.