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January 20, 2009

Auto Body Repair Shop Owner Arrested in Tax Theft Case

The former owner of a Leon County automobile body repair business has been arrested on charges that he stole more than $35,600 in sales tax he collected from customers but failed to send in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Alvin Lynn Gaines, 52, of Tallahassee, was arrested by the Leon County Sheriff’s Department on January 16 on a felony charge relating to theft of state funds. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines, as well as possible repayment of stolen tax, interest, penalty and investigative costs. Mr. Gaines operated A.G. Florida Paint and Body Shop, Inc,. 2611 Spring Hill Road, Tallahassee.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Mr. Gaines routinely collected tax from customers at his business. However, during various periods beginning in 2003 and lasting through 2008, he failed to send in to the state all of the sales taxes that he had collected. Investigators found that he had illegally kept $35,600.00 in tax money. 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 collect tax but don't send it in are stealing taxpayer dollars and gaining an unfair financial advantage over honest businesses. 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.