In a recent administrative hearing in Illinois, an owner of a car dealership who did not actually run the day-to-day operations of the dealership was held liable for taxes not remitted.
This is a tough case. There was this car dealer who wanted to sell his dealership to another company. The other company was going to have to be approved by Chrysler. So while the application was in process, the two parties executed a management agreement. The new company would come in and run the place like they owned it. The management agreement covered the tax issue -- it would be the responsibility of the new company. You'd think you were in good shape from a sales tax standpoint. But not in IL.
But the new operator didn't remit the tax collected. The prior owner claims he had no idea that the tax wasn't sent in. On audit, IL assesses the prior owner saying he was a "responsible officer". IL won the case at the administrative level. The government always seems to get their money, and they get it from the easiest source. (Illinois Department of Revenue, IL --Administrative Hearing Decision No. ST 07-13)