I can still remember the day the Department of Revenue shut my company down. It seems that we had not done a timely job of remitting the sales tax that we had collected from our customers and this government agency wanted their money. My bookkeeper had apparently ignored all their warnings by mail. When they arrived, they put a big sticker on our door, telling all our customers and employees that we had to "pay up to open up". It was a similar story when the IRS was concerned that we were not remitting employees' collected payroll taxes in a timely period of time. This situations happened because as a new owner, I did not know all my tax responsibilities.
Here are four mistakes that can get the government calling on you and maybe even putting you out of business:
- Non payment of payroll taxes. Each pay period, a company deducts from the employees paycheck taxes that are due to the government. If a company is doing this themselves, this money needs to go into a separate account and get sent to the appropriate agency. A better way to do this is to use a payroll service that will withdraw the taxes and pay the government automatically. With this service, there is no temptation by a "cash strapped" small business owner to spend payroll tax money they collected, but belongs to the government.
- Non payment of sales tax. With each transaction, a company collects sales tax for the government. It is then the companies responsibility to remit these funds to the appropriate agency. A company should ensure that theses taxes get posted to a separate account so the money is there to send at the end of the month.
- Non payment of use tax. This is a tax that a company assesses on themselves for product they purchased for their own use where they should have been charged state sales tax, but weren't. This needs to be send to the state typically every quarter.
- Health code violations. Run an office that is unhealthy for employees or a location unfit for customers? Inspectors will shut that company down on the spot and lock the doors. This gets much stricter when serving food and beverage or a hotel
In the days when a company's online reputation is critical, getting shut down like this will do nothing but hurt your Yelp and TripAdvisor ratings.