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September 4, 2009

Bay County Business Owner Arrested in More Than $12,000 Tax Theft Case

The owner of a now closed Bay County business that specialized in promotional products has been arrested on charges that she stole more than $12,000 in sales tax she collected from customers, but failed to send in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Mary M. Davila 33, of Southport, surrendered to the Bay County Sheriff’s Department at 6:30 p.m. on September 3, 2009 on felony and misdemeanor charges related to refusing to file sales tax returns and theft of state funds. If convicted, she 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. Ms. Davila operated Davis Promotional Products, LLC at 3716 East 3rd Street, Panama City.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Ms. Davila routinely collected tax from customers at her business. However, during various periods beginning in June of 2006 through March of 2008, she failed to send in to the state all of the sales taxes that she had collected and she refused to file tax returns. Under state law, sales tax is the property of the state at the moment 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 of Florida’s 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 Panama City at 850-747-5614.