A 58-year-old St. James man pleaded guilty to tax fraud in Suffolk County Court and was ordered to pay $450,567 in restitution, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance said Monday.
Michael Hall, of 7 Swan Place, is the owner of the Motor Works Collision & Car Care Center Inc., located on Suffolk Avenue in Brentwood. Officials said that between February 2009, and August 2011, Hall collected $176,333 tax on sales of $2,317,417 -- but said he failed to remit those taxes to the state. He pleaded guilty before Judge Stephen Braslow and was ordered to make restitution, officials said.
"Collecting tax dollars from a customer, then putting those dollars in your own pocket instead of remitting them to the state is a serious crime," Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Jerry Boone said in the statement, adding that officials will continue to work to "create a level playing field" for honest business owners -- and protect state residents from the high cost of tax evasion.
Officials estimate that New York collects nearly $25 billion annually in sales tax and that the voluntary remittance rate is about 96 percent, with the remaining four percent collected through criminal investigations, audits and collections.
The case against Hall was investigated by the department's Criminal Investigations Division and prosecuted by the office of Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota.