• 59°

Man faces tax charges

A Portsmouth man has been charged with 14 counts of failing to pay the city’s meals tax related to The Café at Harbour View.

David Eugene Bryant, 44, faces a March 15 arraignment in Suffolk General District Court, and, according to Suffolk Deputy Treasurer Keith Ainsley, as the proprietor of the café, Bryant currently owes $3,138.30 for meals tax not paid to the city from December 2017 through January 2019.

The restaurant is located at 5518 Harbour View Blvd. in North Suffolk at the Bon Secours Health Center.

“This is a business that we’ve been trying to work with for several years through various ways to help them get current, but it’s reached a point where it’s getting larger and larger,” Ainsley said. “My job is to protect the city’s interest.”

Under city code, anyone who sells food and beverages at a food establishment in Suffolk must collect a 6.5-percent food tax from customers at the point of sale, with that tax held in trust by its collector.

The person who collects the tax must then complete a report that indicates the total amount of applicable food and beverages sold in the last month, along with the amount of tax calculated on that. That person must also sign and deliver the report to the city’s Commissioner of the Revenue’s office with payment made payable to the City Treasurer by the 20th day of the month for taxes collected in the prior month.

If the city gets the payments after the due date, then they are subject to penalties and interest, and failing to comply with the city code is punishable as a criminal offense, with each violation separate.

Ainsley said the treasurer’s office works with businesses to make payment arrangements, if necessary. He said they did this with Bryant and received one payment but did not receive a second payment.

“We had had one payment several months ago, and were working on getting another which hopefully would have brought them current, but they didn’t meet the timeframe,” Ainsley said.

Ainsley said that businesses having difficulty paying the meals taxes on time should reach out to the treasurer’s office. He said taking the cases to court is a last resort and isn’t what the city prefers to do.

“We don’t normally let these go on this long, but I was doing everything possible to try to get them to make the payments,” Ainsley said. “We had a lot of communications, but unfortunately, we didn’t have a lot of follow-through.”