By Andra Bryan Stefanoni
PITTSBURG, Kan. —
A Pittsburg convenience store remains closed today after being one of eight in Southeast Kansas to be seized Tuesday by the Kansas Department of Revenue for failure to pay $516,000 in collected sales taxes.
A steady stream of customers pulled up to Gorilla X-press, 2401 S. Rouse, this morning just before the noon hour, only to find the doors locked and bearing signs declaring the store had been seized.
According to Jeannine Koranda, public information officer for Kansas State Department of Revenue, the department seized the eight stores Tuesday at 8 a.m. with the assistance of local police. In addition to the Pittsburg store, two were located in Coffeyville, one in Chetopa, one in Altamont, two in Independence, and one in Neodesha. Most operated under the name Jump Start Markets.
All are owned by TAS Group, LLC, which is owned by Adam McCullen of Schenectady, N.Y., and Thomas L. Cook of Ozark, Mo. The company owed $515,911.52 in state sales tax collected between October 2011 and July this year.
“This is a last resort,” Koranda said of the seizure. “This happens when we have been in contact with them quite a few times before, after all other collection attempts, letters, phone calls, tax liens, legal action, onsite till taps, previous bank levies, after we have run through all other tools and are unsuccessful.”
During such a seizure, officers take possession of all known bank accounts, onsite cash, personal property belonging to the owners, and seal the stores. Assets then might be sold at public auction to pay for the taxes.
Koranda said that in this case, the seizure worked.
“The owners and Department of Revenue were able to reach an acceptable payment arrangement and we released the stores back to them,” she said.
She was not able to provide contact numbers for the owners, nor were numbers able to be found online. No one was present to be questioned at the Pittsburg store, so it is unclear why it remains closed today or when it will reopen.
“The last thing we really want to do is go in and close down businesses,” Koranda said. “It is not good for the communities, not even good for us. Ultimately we’re trying to enforce the law and ensure a level playing field.”
In Altamont, Chetopa, Coffeyville and Independence, all stores reopened for business this morning. The phone was not in service at the Neodesha store.