MONTGOMERY, Nov. 7, 2018 – Tamara Gonzalez Wintzell, 59, of Fairhope pleaded guilty on Nov. 6 to charges that she willfully failed to remit to the state, the city of Fairhope, and Baldwin County more than $600,000 of sales taxes that her restaurants, under the name of Tamara’s Restaurant Group, collected from January 2010 through Aug. 15, 2015.
Judge Jody W. Bishop accepted the guilty plea. Wintzell had previously been indicted by a Baldwin County grand jury. According to court records, Wintzell was responsible for collecting, reporting and paying over Alabama’s sales tax, levied pursuant to Code of Ala. 1975 40-23-1, et seq. (1975). She collected the sales tax due from customers but willfully failed to report and timely pay over the true amount of sales taxes.
Wintzell was placed on probation and ordered to pay full restitution of $606,845.96 within a 12-month period. Additionally, she was ordered to cooperate with the Alabama Department of Revenue in making restitution along with being compliant with all tax laws.
“Retail businesses that collect sales taxes from their customers hold these funds in trust for the state and are not allowed by law to keep them for their own use. Anyone found to be illegally keeping state tax dollars for personal gain will be pursued to the fullest extent of the law,” said Revenue Commissioner Vernon Barnett.
State sales tax revenue is earmarked for the Education Trust Fund (ETF) and is one of the fund’s major funding components.