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Wilson County man, Montana LLC manager charged with tax evasion

Staff Reports • Nov 21, 2017 at 5:05 PM

A Wilson County man, along with a Montana limited liabilities corp. manager, was charged with tax evasion, according to the special investigation section of the Tennessee Department of Revenue.

Steven R. Griffith, 48, turned himself in at the Wilson County Jail in Lebanon.

On Nov. 13, a Wilson County grand jury indicted Griffith on one Class E felony count of tax evasion and one Class C misdemeanor charge of failing to register a motor vehicle. Bond for Griffith was set at $2,500.

Tennessee law requires the payment of sales tax on vehicle purchases, unless the owner signs a sworn affidavit that he or she will remove the vehicle from the state within three days of purchase. It is alleged that Griffith used a Montana LLC to violate Tennessee law by registering vehicles in Montana, which were in Tennessee.

“The Department of Revenue has always been committed to making sure Tennessee’s tax laws and procedures are applied uniformly to ensure fairness,” said Revenue Commissioner David Gerregano. “We can never allow individuals engaged in fraudulent tax activity to have a competitive advantage over honest individuals in our state.”

If convicted, Griffith could be sentenced to a maximum of two years in a state penitentiary and fined up to $3,000 for the tax evasion count. For failing to register a motor vehicle, he could be sentenced up to 30 days in prison and fined up to $50.

“We want Tennesseans to know that individuals cannot evade sales tax by falsifying registration documents and failing to register vehicles as the law requires,” said special investigations director Tommy Sneed. “Tennessee citizens who engage in this type of activity will be held accountable.”

The department pursued the criminal case in cooperation with District Attorney Tommy Thompson’s office.

Citizens who suspect violations of Tennessee’s revenue laws should call the toll-free tax fraud hotline at 800-372-8389.

The Department of Revenue is responsible for the administration of state tax laws and motor vehicle title and registration laws and the collection of taxes and fees associated with those laws. The department collects about 87 percent of total state revenue. During the 2017 fiscal year, it collected $13.9 billion in state taxes and fees and more than $2.7 billion in taxes and fees for local governments. To learn more about the department, visit tn.gov/revenue. 

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