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Southampton Publick House its set to reopen at 7 p.m. Friday, after the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance returned possession of the bar and restaurant to the owner.
Owner Donald Sullivan said before 5 p.m. that he was on his way back from the department’s office in Hauppauge, where he had just made a tax payment. Once he arrives at the Publick House, it will take a half hour to get ready to welcome patrons, he said, and going forward, the business will remain open as usual.
Southampton Publick House owner Donald Sullivan said Thursday that setbacks from the restaurant’s transition from its original location on Bowden Square to Jobs Lane, infrastructure repairs, a slow winter and village sidewalk and parking lot construction limiting access to the restaurant entrances are to blame for the business’s seven tax warrants totaling more than $111,000.
With each of these setbacks adding up over time, he said that the village’s construction of the parking lot near the restaurant is what took the biggest toll on his business.
“We were essentially closed for three weeks. People couldn’t get in or get out. That was where we fell behind with New York State. I was trying to keep people employed and keep the lights on,” Mr. Sullivan said.
When approached by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance in mid-June, Mr. Sullivan said they were very generous and cooperative with putting him on a payment plan, but when it came time to pay the department on Friday, July 7, he couldn’t due to losing $15,000 of business during a power outage on the Fourth of July that shut down The Publick House from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Mr. Sullivan said he made the payment on the following Tuesday, July 11, but the department told him it was too late. However, he has plans to repay the debt, which is now $111,744.69 as of Wednesday morning, according to Department of Taxation and Finance spokesman James Gazzale, and reopen the restaurant.
“We will reopen in the next few days and we will take care of the debt,” Mr. Sullivan assured.
He said that looking back, he should have closed down the business briefly to handle the tax issues, but that it was more important to keep Publick House doors open. “We were open for 20 years continually and that was important for me,” he said.
The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance seized the Southampton Publick House on Wednesday due to seven tax warrants totaling more than $100,000 in outstanding taxes, according to a department spokesman.
Six warrants concern outstanding sales tax, while the seventh concerns outstanding withholding tax, which is the income tax that an employer withholds from employees’ paychecks and remits to the state, explained the spokesman, James Gazzale.
The oldest warrant dates back to March 2016 and the most recent warrant is from May of this year, Mr. Gazzale said.
“Long before we seize a business, we’re in communication with the business owner letting them know there is an outstanding tax debt and we work with them to try to find a way to resolve it,” he said. “Seizing a business is always a last resort.”
The current warranted balance is $111,708.12, according to Mr. Gazzale, who said that the keys to a business are returned to an owner when the department is confident that the owner is acting in good faith to satisfy the tax debt. “In general, after seizing a business, we continue to have communication with the business owner in hopes of having a mutually beneficial way to resolve the debt,” he said.
The Southampton Publick House on Jobs Lane in Southampton Village was seized on Wednesday by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.
According to a notice posted outside the business by officials with the department, the business was seized for failure to comply with sales tax laws.
The Department of Taxation and Finance notice states that the department was “levying the right, title and interest of McSully Enterprises, Inc./Southampton Publick House and all personal property located on the premises of the business.”
Further, the notice said the department would sell the restaurant “as directed by law unless the warrant is otherwise satisfied.”
As the property is now in possession of New York State, any person attempting to interfere with or enter the property could be prosecuted, according to the notice.
Owner Donald Sullivan and the State Department of Taxation and Finance did not immediately reply for comment.
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