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May 1, 2008

Automobile Repair Shop Owner Arrested in over $17,000 Tax Theft Case

The owner of a Leon County automobile repair business has been arrested on charges that he stole more than $17,000 in sales tax he collected from customers but failed to send in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

William Paul Walker, 51, of Quincy, was arrested by the Leon County Sheriff’s Department today on felony charges relating to failure to file tax returns and pay tax. If convicted, he faces up to 5 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines, as well as possible repayment of stolen tax, interest, penalty and investigative costs. Walker also faces charges related to failure to file tax returns as required by law. Walker operated Walker Auto & Tire Repair, Inc., 420 Nina Road, Tallahassee. The business is still open.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Walker routinely collected tax from customers at his business. However, during various periods between May 2005 and October 2007, Walker failed to send in to the state all of the sales taxes that he had collected. Investigators found that Walker had illegally kept $17,548.46 in tax money. Under state law, sales tax is the property of the state at the time of collection.

"Most Florida businesses do an excellent job of meeting the state's requirements for collecting and submitting sales tax, which pays for services Floridians need," said Lisa Echeverri, Executive Director, Florida Department of Revenue. "Individuals who collect tax but don't send it in are stealing taxpayer dollars and gaining an unfair financial advantage over honest businesses. It's our job to ensure that Florida's tax laws are administered fairly."

If you have information about tax crimes, please call the Florida Department of Revenue investigations office in Tallahassee at 850-922-2671.