Monthly Archives: June 2012
The Metro Nashville’s city council is considering legislation to move the collection of liquor privilege taxes from the City Clerk to the Treasurer. We see this as progress.
The City Clerk’s mishandling of liquor privilege taxes has fueled considerable chatter among restaurant owners and licensing professionals. Earlier this spring, hundreds of invoices were mailed demanding payment for three year’s worth of taxes, at a rate higher than authorized by state law.
Once the legislation becomes law, we expect the Treasurer to consult with Metro Legal and work through the issues with the liquor privilege tax. We have spoken to the Treasurer and offered our assistance.
Until resolved, we recommend that folks continue holding onto invoices. Some tax is undoubtedly due, but we suspect the amount will be less than originally demanded.
Stay tuned for more news.
Smart business owners often navigate the labyrinth of liquor laws without legal counsel. Why should folks spend for legal counsel?
A recent case before the Nashville Beer Board involving a grocery that was accused of selling to a minor answers the query.
At a hearing on a sale to a minor, a local grocery store plead guilty with explanation. Pleading guilty with explanation is the way a permit holder admits it messed up and sold to a minor, but wants to tell the board how they try to prevent sales to minors.
The guilty with explanation defense does not reduce penalties, but allows the permittee to vent a bit and hopefully pave the way for a better defense for a subsequent sale to minor.
The grocery plead guilty with explanation. But after witnesses testified, a beer board member moved to dismiss the charge because the minor used a fake ID to purchase the beer. If the motion was adopted, the charge would have been dismissed. The grocery would have been found not guilty.
Because the grocery had already plead guilty with explanation, the board could not dismiss the charge. The grocery legally had admitted that it was guilty.
Instead of dismissing the charge, the beer board imposed probation. Although the penalty did not affect beer sales, it goes down on the permanent record of the grocery.
The grocery could have easily avoided a citation if it was represented by qualified legal counsel.
Tennessee business owners know government imposes an almost infinite number of potential traps for the unwary. Recent news about the padlocking of a century-old restaurant in Murfreesboro reminds us of an important lesson about taxes.
Employees, food and beverage wholesalers, the landlord, utilities and other critical vendors demand payment. Uncle Sam and the Volunteer State are not quite as aggressive, at least not as quickly.
But ignoring the taxman is playing with fire.
City Cafe on the courthouse square in Murfreesboro has seen more than 100 years of diners, defying defeat by more modern chains. Last month, the historic business was padlocked by Tennessee Department of Revenue officials .
According to The Tennessean, “Tennessee Department of Revenue agents showed customers to the door around 9 a.m. May 23 before seizing the cash register and changing the locks, in addition to putting a note on the door stating it had been closed by order of the Tax Enforcement Division for uncollected taxes.”
This Monday June 3, 2012, City Cafe reopened. We are not privy to the specific tax woes of City Cafe, but the sudden closure of the historic diner serves as a reminder that the taxman cannot be ignored.