Unpaid tax bill shuts down Los Comales restaurants

Jun. 03, 2014 @ 10:59 AM

The N.C. Department of Revenue has shut down the popular Los Comales restaurant locations in Durham because of unpaid taxes.

Both Los Comales restaurant locations -- on North Roxboro Street and on Witherspoon Boulevard -- were shut down on Wednesday, said Trevor Johnson, a revenue department spokesman.

A sign was on the door of the North Roxboro Street location Monday saying the restaurant’s personal property was seized for nonpayment of taxes.

Johnson said that next week, department officials are expected to take the property to auction to pay the debt.

The business had only recently opened its second location on Witherspoon Boulevard. Last year, it was one of the stops suggested in New York Times article “36 Hours in Durham, N.C.”

However, Johnson said in an email that the business owed about $185,000 to the state. Certificates of tax liability filed in Durham County Superior Court show that the business had unpaid taxes dating back to 2008.

 “Shutting down businesses is the last resort,” Johnson said. “We work with the tax payer to make sure they are aware and understand what they are owed to the department.”

Johnson said in some cases, businesses that have been shut down by the department can re-open if they can pay their debt.

“There can be a case where a business closes and they make arrangements to make payment, and they work with the department to make sure the payment is secured,” Johnson said. “And so we do work in that capacity yes, but sometimes they are not able to pay what is owed and that’s when we move forward with the auctioning process.”

Attempts to reach the restaurant owner for comment on Monday were not successful.

The restaurant is not the only one with tax compliance issues, according to a report by the revenue department in January.

According to a report by the revenue department to the N.C. General Assembly’s Revenue Laws Study Committee in January, 33 percent of hotels, bars, restaurants, grocery stores and other food-and-beverage-related businesses were non-complaint in paying state taxes. The report said they owed $7.8 million to the state.