• Report: Latitude 360 didn't report wages

    By: Jenna Bourne

    Updated:

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Latitude 360 did not report any of its employees’ wages to the Florida Dept. of Revenue, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

    Former employees of Latitude 360 told Action News Jax they were unable to collect unemployment benefits; a DEO spokesperson said this is why:

    Action News Jax also found documents that show there’s a federal tax issue too.

    We brought tax lien notices against Latitude 360 CEO Brent Brown to a retired IRS special agent. He said they add up to the CEO owing unpaid federal income taxes to the tune of about $1.5 million.

    The federal tax liens indicate the IRS has been aware of a problem dating back at least to 2013.

    An IRS spokesman declined to comment.

    Now former employees want to know where the money deducted out of their paychecks was going.

    “We were lied to for many years,” said Jeff Land, who worked as a cook there for three years. “I just couldn’t believe it. All that time working there I thought they were paying what they were supposed to.”

    Land was denied unemployment benefits because the state had no record of his wages.

    “You’ve got to follow the money,” said Action News Jax Law and Safety Expert Dale Carson.

    Carson said felony charges could be on the way if an investigation shows it was intentional.

    “The money went somewhere, right? And if you don’t properly report that, there are potential criminal violations,” said Carson.

    As Land spends his day finding all his old pay stubs so he can finally have a shot at unemployment benefits, he still wants to know where the deductions taken out of his paychecks were going.

    “Because that’s money that I’ve earned and stuff like that – I’ve worked hard for,” said Land.

    Affected employees are asked to file a claim at www.floridajobs.org. Employees can also contact escalatedclaimants@deo.myflorida.com to provide proof of employment and wage information in the event a claim is denied due to lack of wage information.

    The Florida Department of Revenue said it could not tell Action News Jax if Latitude 360 paid its taxes, or if it is investigating Latitude 360, citing confidentiality. However, the Department of Revenue said in general, if a registered employer does not file required quarterly returns, it has legal authority to estimate the amount due and issue an assessment.  The employer has a chance to protest the assessment but if no protest is filed or it was filed but was not successful, the Department of Revenue can file a warrant and commence collection efforts including freezing the employer’s bank account.

    Latitude 360’s public filings show its former landlord West Pershing released the company from its $6.8 million debt if the company moved out, turned over all the property inside the building and paid the landlord $250,000.

    Action News Jax reached out to Latitude 360’s CEO Brent Brown, President Greg Garson, and VP of Finance Tom Bass, who oversaw payroll. None of them returned our calls.

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