Corporate Officer Not Liable for Corporation’s Unpaid Taxes in Virginia

An individual Virginia taxpayer was not liable for the unpaid Virginia retail sales and use taxes of a corporation that sells and services auto tires because he did not satisfy all of the criteria required to be considered a corporate officer as defined by Virginia tax code. During the period in question, the taxpayer owned a 20% share in the corporation. The taxpayer’s election as president of the corporation was in title only since he continued to perform duties as the corporation’s shop foreman, overseeing and performing tire sales, installation, repair, and servicing. Although he was an officer of the corporation, he did not have the specific duty of timely reporting and paying the tax on behalf of the corporation. The taxpayer also lacked actual knowledge of the corporation’s failure to file and pay its taxes until after the resignation of the secretary-treasurer. The taxpayer claimed that the secretary-treasurer oversaw all of the financial, payroll, accounting, tax, monetary and business office functions and duties. There was no evidence that the taxpayer willfully failed to pay the state taxes owed by the corporation. The taxpayer may have had apparent authority to prevent the corporation’s failure to pay the taxes, but he had no actual authority or ultimate control over the business affairs. The vice president, as majority shareholder, had such ultimate authority. Thus, the taxpayer did not satisfy all of the criteria to be considered a corporate officer, and the converted assessments issued to the taxpayer were abated.(Ruling of Commissioner, P.D. 12-100, Virginia Department of Taxation, June 15, 2012)

Posted on June 20, 2013