June 28, 2005
TALLAHASSEE – The owner of two Tallahassee restaurants and a St. Marks seafood restaurant – the mother of a businesswoman already sentenced to probation on tax charges – has been arrested on charges that she stole more than $106,000 in sales tax she collected from customers but failed to send in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.
Nancy R. Nichols, 58, of Tallahassee, was arrested Tuesday on felony charges relating to tax theft and failure to file tax returns as required by law. If convicted, she faces up to 30 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines, as well as possible repayment of stolen tax, interest, penalty and investigative costs. Nichols also faces a misdemeanor charge related to failure to register a business to collect, report, and remit tax. Nichols operates Crossway Caf, 4827 Crawfordville Road, Tallahassee; Nanny's the Net, 1660 N. Monroe Street, Tallahassee; and Nichols' Seafood, 785 Port Leon Drive, St. Marks.
According to Revenue Department investigators, Nichols routinely collected tax from customers at her businesses. Under state law, sales tax is the property of the state at the moment of collection. However, during various periods between 2000 and 2004, Nichols failed to send in to the state all of the sales taxes that she had collected. Investigators found that Nichols had illegally kept $106,609.94 in tax money. Nichols' daughter, Wanda Nichols, served two years on probation on 1998 tax-violation charges stemming from failure to file tax returns and send in tax as required by law. The elder Nichols took over operation of the businesses after her daughter's criminal case concluded.
"To be fair, tax law must apply uniformly to all businesses," said Jim Zingale, executive director of the Revenue Department. "Tax cheats steal money that the public pays to support vital public services, such as law enforcement and education. They also steal a competitive advantage over honest businesspeople who pay their taxes. The Department of Revenue cannot and will not allow this to occur."
If you have information about tax theft, please call the Florida Department of Revenue investigations office in Tallahassee at 850-488-3818.