Meals tax warrants served

Published 9:04 pm Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Virginia Beach man has been served with warrants for 30 counts of failure to pay meals taxes in Suffolk.

Lewis F. Kelly, former owner of the Tropical Smoothie on North Main Street, is set to appear in General District Court on June 20.

Treasurer Ron Williams said Kelly is about $19,000 in arrears dating back to 2007 from the business, which Kelly sold in 2010. The new owners reopened it as a Tropical Smoothie and are not responsible for Kelly’s debts.

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Compliance manager Andrew Tasch said Kelly had a “chronic delinquent account” while the restaurant was open.

“We’d have to call him constantly, send him letters,” Tasch said.

Suffolk restaurateurs are required to charge a 6.5-percent tax on food and drinks served in their establishments. They hold that tax until the 20th of every month, when they are required to pay the amount due from the prior month.

However, some restaurants run into trouble when they try to borrow from the money held in reserve to pay operating expenses and then cannot make up the difference by the time it is due, Williams said.

Tasch said Kelly’s account had been brought current, but then the Commissioner of the Revenue’s office conducted an audit shortly before the restaurant closed and found more money owed.

Efforts since then to collect the tax have been unsuccessful, Tasch said.

“Unfortunately, since the business closed, the best option is to bring this thing in front of the court,” he said.