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January 13, 2009

Washington County Restaurant Owner Arrested for Failing to Tile Tax Returns and Pay Taxes

The owner of a Washington County restaurant has been arrested on charges that she failed to file state sales tax returns and refused to pay sales taxes that she collected from customers, but failed to send into the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Sue Ann Foster, 51, of Panama City, turned herself in to the Washington County Sheriff’s Department on January 9, 2009 on felony and misdemeanor charges relating to failure to file tax returns and pay tax. If convicted, she faces up to 5 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines, as well as possible repayment of tax, interest, penalty and investigative costs. Ms. Foster owned and operated Hutch’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar located at 1320 Jackson Ave, Chipley, Florida.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Ms. Foster routinely collected tax from customers at her business. However, during various periods in 2007 and 2008, she failed to file tax returns and to send into the state all of the sales taxes that she had collected. Under state law, sales tax is the property of the state at the moment of collection.

"Most Florida businesses do an excellent job of meeting the state's requirements for collecting and submitting sales tax, which pays for services Floridians need," said Lisa Echeverri, Executive Director, Florida Department of Revenue. "Individuals who consistently fail to submit tax returns gain an unfair financial advantage over honest businesses that follow the law. It's our job to ensure that Florida’s tax laws are administered fairly."

If you have information about tax crimes, please call the Florida Department of Revenue investigations office in Tallahassee at 850-922-2671.