Elite Café, a casual restaurant at 185 Columbus Ave. between 68th and 69th streets, was recently shut down for non-payment of state sales taxes. The New York State Tax Department seized the restaurant, which had been operating since 1991, on May 26. According to department spokesperson Susan Burns, as of July 2, there were two open warrants for failure to pay state sales tax, amounting to $53,259.55, docketed in New York County Court. The first warrant was issued in late January 2007 and the second in mid-May of 2009 under Elite’s legal name, VK Food Shop Inc.
Elite did not fare as well as the famous H+H Bagels, which was also recently shuttered for tax issues. H+H’s flagship store, on Broadway at West 80th Street, was seized on May 29, but it reopened only three hours later after owners paid $25,466.06 in owed taxes. H+H’s business office and manufacturing outfit, both at 639 W. 46th St., were also shut down on May 29, but did not reopen until June 8.
The total number of state tax department seizures has increased steadily over the past three years: in 2006, 287 seizures were conducted. That number grew to 354 in 2007 and to 653 in 2008. Statistics for 2009 seizures are not yet available.
Though the weakened economy could be a factor, the department attributes this spike to its increased enforcement policy.
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