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Massachusetts Closes Nantucket Restaurant for Failure to Pay Taxes

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The Brotherhood of Thieves restaurant, a Nantucket landmark, was shuttered by state officials yesterday for failure to pay back taxes. “We slapped a big orange sticker on the door saying it was seized,” said Tim Connolly of the Massachusetts Department of Revenue yesterday afternoon. Connolly said two tax examiners and a state trooper arrived at the establishment yesterday morning and changed the locks on the doors. He said the business owed the state a total of $64,613 in meals taxes, sales taxes, and corporate taxes dating back to 2000.

The restaurant will remain closed until the state works out a payment plan with the restaurant to receive the outstanding taxes, Connolly said. If no agreement can be reached, all of the restaurant’s assets — including its liquor license — will be put up for auction.

The Times made several unsuccessful attempts yesterday to contact Brotherhood owner Douglas Wolff. “I’m surprised,” said Tracy Bakalar, executive director of the Nantucket Chamber of Commerce. “The Brotherhood is a well-respected member of the business community on Nantucket.”

Bakalar said the restaurant is one of the most popular on the island, partly because it stays open year-round. Bernadette Miller, a worker at Nantucket Bookworks next door to the restaurant, said she looked forward to The Brotherhood re-opening.

“I’m sorry they’re not open today. I was going to get a Broad Street,” she said, referring to one of the restaurant’s sandwiches featuring grilled chicken, bacon and cheese, according to a menu posted on its Web site. Wolff has also been delinquent on his personal property taxes but is on a payment plan, said Elizabeth Brown, Nantucket tax collector. “He … has been very consistently paying it,” she said.

Brown said she could not immediately determine the size of Wolff’s outstanding tax bill. Wolff was present when state officials arrived yesterday morning, Connolly said. He did not protest their actions. Connolly said the agency had notified Wolff earlier that it intended to seize the property. “Sometimes this is the only way to get the taxpayer’s attention,” he said.

The Brotherhood was the site of a fire in 1999 and was closed for a long reconstruction. The restaurant houses staff in apartments on the premises, Bakalar said. They will still have access, Connolly said. Each year, the state seizes 40 to 50 businesses that have been delinquent on their back taxes, said Connolly. When and if those businesses reopen is at the discretion of the state. There is no set timetable for reaching an agreement with business owners or deadline for auctioning off assets.

Each month, businesses must file tax sales and meals tax returns with the state and submit payment for the amount owed. Connolly said the Brotherhood’s biggest delinquency was $62,250 in meals taxes.

Meals taxes are assessed at 5 percent per tab, meaning the Brotherhood had failed to pay taxes on a possible $1.25 million in revenue.

The restaurant will remain closed until the state works out a payment plan with the restaurant to receive the outstanding taxes, Connolly said. If no agreement can be reached, all of the restaurant’s assets — including its liquor license — will be put up for auction.

The Times made several unsuccessful attempts yesterday to contact Brotherhood owner Douglas Wolff. “I’m surprised,” said Tracy Bakalar, executive director of the Nantucket Chamber of Commerce. “The Brotherhood is a well-respected member of the business community on Nantucket.”

Bakalar said the restaurant is one of the most popular on the island, partly because it stays open year-round. Bernadette Miller, a worker at Nantucket Bookworks next door to the restaurant, said she looked forward to The Brotherhood re-opening.

“I’m sorry they’re not open today. I was going to get a Broad Street,” she said, referring to one of the restaurant’s sandwiches featuring grilled chicken, bacon and cheese, according to a menu posted on its Web site. Wolff has also been delinquent on his personal property taxes but is on a payment plan, said Elizabeth Brown, Nantucket tax collector. “He … has been very consistently paying it,” she said.

Brown said she could not immediately determine the size of Wolff’s outstanding tax bill. Wolff was present when state officials arrived yesterday morning, Connolly said. He did not protest their actions. Connolly said the agency had notified Wolff earlier that it intended to seize the property. “Sometimes this is the only way to get the taxpayer’s attention,” he said.

The Brotherhood was the site of a fire in 1999 and was closed for a long reconstruction. The restaurant houses staff in apartments on the premises, Bakalar said. They will still have access, Connolly said. Each year, the state seizes 40 to 50 businesses that have been delinquent on their back taxes, said Connolly. When and if those businesses reopen is at the discretion of the state. There is no set timetable for reaching an agreement with business owners or deadline for auctioning off assets.

Each month, businesses must file tax sales and meals tax returns with the state and submit payment for the amount owed. Connolly said the Brotherhood’s biggest delinquency was $62,250 in meals taxes.

Meals taxes are assessed at 5 percent per tab, meaning the Brotherhood had failed to pay taxes on a possible $1.25 million in revenue.

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