Most people never intend to fall behind on sending in their monthly sales tax report. It just happens. Business is slowing down in Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough, Pinellas and Lee counties or bills are piling up and you just don’t have the money in your business account to pay the Florida sales tax to the Department of Revenue. The money that you collected on sales just seemed to slip away paying the bills and keeping the business open. Sales Tax collected may have gone to pay payroll, the utilities or some other necessary expense. The bottom line is you have fallen behind on the sales tax payments and now are months behind. This happens often and many times the business actually has to shut down. The problem is, not sending the money to the Department of Revenue is a crime and you can be prosecuted.
The sales tax money that you collected is not your money. Sales tax collected belongs to the State of Florida and you can be charged with grand theft for each month that you failed to send it in. Even if the business is shut down, the criminal investigators from the Florida Department of Revenue will try and put you in jail. As a Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer, I have been defending people in sales tax investigations for over thirty years. I have defended car dealers, restaurant owners and retail merchants who simply fell behind with taxes and in desperation tried to keep the business open.
If you find yourself in this tax situation and have been contacted by a criminal investigator, contact a Tax attorney immediately. Do not turn over your records or agree to meet with the investigator without talking to a lawyer. Even if you have gone Bankrupt, you are not protected from criminal tax prosecution. As a Florida Criminal Attorney who handles sales tax and payroll tax cases,I have helped individuals in the past to convince the investigator that personal circumstances beyond your control contributed to the problem. Do not wait until you are arrested for grand theft. Each month can be charged as a separate offense and even if you are hurting for money, it will be worse if you get arrested. If you fell behind or went out of business and owe sales tax you can call my office discuss your situation.