State & Local Tax Blog

Don’t Remit Tax – You Could Go To Jail?

This headline from the Associated Press was a bit startling.

WA yacht broker charged with felony theft of sales tax

Most people think about penalty and interest being the big problem when it comes to not remiitting tax collected. But this yacht broker in Everett, Washington is thinking that penalty and interest would be by far preferable to the going to jail part.
Here’s the article:
EVERETT, Wash. — An Everett yacht broker has been charged with felony theft of sales tax and filing false state tax returns.

Ronald J. Sperry is accused of failing to remit nearly $359,000 in sales tax he collected from late 2004 through 2007 on sales of yachts through Everett Yacht Sales and Hanan Yachts.
The charges were brought in Snohomish County Superior Court.
Charging papers say the 59-year-old Sperry reported about $5.5 million in sales to the Washington Department of Licensing, but less than one quarter of that to the Washington Department of Revenue.
Sperry is accused of pocketing the sales tax paid to him by customers of yachts he sold. He also is accused of underreporting the 10 percent commissions he made on those sales.
Felony theft of sales tax is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

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