JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Department of Justice announced that 63-year-old John M. Williams from St. Augustine has pleaded guilty to failing to account for, and pay over to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), income taxes, Medicare taxes, and Social Security taxes (also known as payroll taxes) that had been withheld from his employees’ pay.
Williams faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been sent.
According to the terms of his plea agreement, in 2012, Williams assumed ownership and operational responsibilities as a corporate officer for First Coast Exteriors, Inc., a company involved in stucco application and home construction.
Williams reportedly had full control over the company’s financial matters, and he personally signed nearly all checks issued from its corporate bank account, including employee paychecks. In his capacity as an owner and corporate officer with financial control, Williams had a legal obligation to collect payroll taxes from his employees’ taxable wages. Additionally, he was responsible for accurately reporting and transferring these payroll taxes to the IRS on a quarterly basis.
An examination of the Form W-2s submitted for First Coast Exteriors employees revealed that between the first quarter of 2013 and the fourth quarter of 2018, the company deducted payroll taxes from its employees’ salaries. However, IRS records indicate that Williams failed to report these withholdings on the Form 941 quarterly tax returns or remit the corresponding funds to the IRS when they were due.
Over the period from 2013 to 2018, Williams’ actions led to approximately $306,500 in unpaid payroll taxes. During the same timeframe, he also neglected to forward the employer’s portion of Social Security and Medicare taxes to the IRS, resulting in an additional debt of $128,943.
It’s worth noting that First Coast Exteriors was not the sole company under Williams’ management that fell behind in its payroll tax payments. Records indicate that he operated another business called W.W. Contractors, Inc. since 1995.
For the 13 financial quarters spanning from 2009 to 2012, W.W. Contractors filed quarterly Form 941 returns but failed to make complete or timely payments for the payroll taxes withheld and owed to the IRS.
Brian Payne, the special agent in charge of the IRS-CI Tampa Field Office, expressed his concern, stating, “Unfortunately, cases like these are investigated by our agents all too often. Business owners must understand that we will thoroughly investigate those who attempt to evade taxes to ensure they are held accountable for their unethical actions. In this instance, the defendant not only cheated our federal tax system but also stole from his hardworking employees’ rightful employment benefits.”
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