Oysterette owner arrested for back taxes

Published 10:13 pm Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The former owner of a popular downtown seafood restaurant was arrested Tuesday on five counts of failure to pay food tax.

Sharon Hensley Tarr, 51, owes just under $5,000 to the city of Suffolk for meals taxes from the Oysterette restaurant, deputy treasurer Keith Ainsley said Wednesday.

The move comes after months of working with Tarr to get payment from her, Ainsley said. She is in arrears for August 2010 through January 2011.

Email newsletter signup

“I’ve been working with this woman since October of last year,” he said. “We’ve gone ‘round and ‘round numerous times trying to get this result.”

Ainsley said the treasurer’s office has tried bank liens and seizing Tarr’s automobile to get her to pay up. They wound up giving her truck back because it was in such poor condition.

“We ended up letting the automobile go because the condition of the automobile was worse than what we were led to believe,” he said. “We wouldn’t have had hardly any money to put towards the tax.”

The treasurer’s office also tried to seize the contents of the building. That’s when they found out the Internal Revenue Service and the state of Virginia also were after her, for payroll taxes and state sales taxes, respectively.

“They had liens on the contents of the building,” Ainsley said. “I tried every way I could think of to resolve this without having to involve the court systems. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out.”

Tarr also operates another Oysterette restaurant in Chesapeake, Ainsley said. However, because that restaurant is operated under a separate corporate identity, the treasurer’s office cannot legally seize its assets.

“The law ties our hands in that regard,” Ainsley said. “All those avenues failed. The only option I have to recoup the taxpayers’ money is through the court system.”

Ainsley added that the treasurer’s office understands that people have hardships.

“A lot of these situations can be avoided if people will contact us and let us try to work with them,” he said.