Sales tax theft costly

Recently, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance seized Pour Jim’s Family Restaurant and Tavern for allegedly owing $413,313 in unpaid taxes, mostly sales tax.

According to Fulton County Clerk’s Office records, Pour Jim’s has had multiple cases of owing taxes, dating back to 2006, with two federal tax liens set on the business on Nov. 4, 2013, and May 14, 2013, totalling more than $38,000. The records did not show if the liens had been satisfied.

In another recent sales tax case, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance announced July 3 that two Syracuse businessmen were charged with failing to pay the state $245,557 in sales tax.

Yakov Bandura, 23, of Camillus, and Sergey Tomoroksa, 28, of Liverpool, who jointly operate Highline Motor Works in Syracuse, allegedly were collecting sales tax money from their customers between September 2010 and February 2013, and then, in violation of the tax law, keeping the funds rather than remitting them to the state.

The defendants, who operated the used automobile dealership since February 2010, were charged with grand larceny in the second degree, a class C felony, and seven counts of criminal tax fraud in the second degree, class C felonies.

If convicted, Bandura and Tomoroksa could face up to 15 years in state prison.

These cases bring to light the important issue of sales tax fraud.

When a business fails to pay its sales tax, it is stealing, not only from fellow taxpayers, but also from its customers. When customers pay sales tax, that money is meant to go to pay for government services and to help lower the local property tax burden; it isn’t supposed to go into the business owner’s pocket. We can all wish the tax burden was lower, but that doesn’t excuse cheating the system, which only ends up hurting the public.

Each year, New York state businesses collect nearly $25 billion in sales tax from their customers, according to the state Department of Taxation and Finance.

Anyone with information about a local business cheating on its sales tax should go to the state Department of Taxation and Finance’s website at www.tax.ny.gov/reporttaxfraud.htm or send a letter to the Information Referral Unit, Building 9 Room 480, W.A. Harriman Campus, Albany, NY 12227.