Scott Perkins (right) sits in front of the City Cafe in September 2008, a year after purchasing the restaurant, during an interview in Murfreesboro, Tenn. (TMP Photo/K. Hite)
A venerable Rutherford County tradition resumed Monday with the reopening of City Cafe on the historic Murfreesboro Square after the father of the former owner was able to obtain a new business license in his own name, leaving the former license holder liable for its sales tax delinquencies.
Russell “Rusty” Perkins, father of former owner Scott Perkins and the co-owner of the building at 113 E. Main St., in Murfreesboro, obtained a Rutherford County business license Friday, June 1, and an “unnamed individual” requested a new City Of Murfreesboro business license for the business Monday, June 4, Assistant City Recorder Regina Dorsey said.
Dorsey said businesses may operate without applying for a business license for a maximum of 20 days, but the applicant must be cleared of any tax obligation before a license can be granted.
A new license was necessary because of tax delinquencies filed against the former license holder, Scott Perkins, which prevented the business from operating further.
The business was seized by Tennessee Department of Revenue officials on the morning of May 23, and breakfast patrons were escorted from the premises.
Documents at the Rutherford County Register of Deeds office show more than $88,000 in federal payroll tax liens and a state tax lien of an undisclosed amount were filed against Scott Perkins doing business as The City Cafe over a five-year period.
Perkins told The Daily News Journal last week that the state was demanding $180,000 in delinquent sales tax payments for a two-month period, but it is not possible to confirm this because details of the case are not public record, Tennessee Department of Revenue Spokesman Billy Trout said.
Trout said he “cannot confirm or deny Perkins’ claims” due to the fact that such details are kept private during ongoing collection attempts by his department.
Efforts to reach former owner Scott Perkins continue to be unsuccessful, but his mother and building co-owner, Cindy Perkins, told reporters Monday that the federal tax liens arise from a “small business program with the Internal Revenue Service in which liens are placed on the business as it makes monthly installments for payroll taxes.”
However, IRS Spokesman Dan Boone could not produce evidence of any such program, and legal sources advised The Post that the 12 liens, which date back to 2008, appear to be unpaid since no corresponding releases of the liens have been filed by the IRS.
Messages were left for Perkins and her husband, Rusty, but they declined further comment.
No certificate of registration for state sales tax was displayed in the business Tuesday, which is required under Tennessee Code Annotated 67-4-723 (d), and no evidence of such registration could be obtained from the Tennessee Department of Revenue.
According to Trout, failure to obtain and display proper licensing is subject to further enforcement by the department.
Additionally, three lawsuits were filed by the Rutherford County Trustee against City Cafe in Rutherford County Chancery Court for unpaid business taxes from 2008 to 2010, and Trustee’s records show an unpaid balance for 2011 as well.