Onondaga County Pursues Criminal Charges Against Tax Scofflaws

Oct 8, 2019

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon is threatening criminal action against multiple hotel owners in the county due to delinquency on tax payments. The organizations owe over $900,000 to the county in back taxes combined.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

Onondaga County is continuing its tough stance against businesses that aren’t paying their taxes.  County Executive Ryan McMahon is threatening criminal action and property seizures on several hotel properties. 

He detailed Tuesday a string of hotels that are years behind on their room occupancy taxes.  Revenue from those payments is important to the county and its economy.

"Our room occupancy tax funds our convention center district. It funds our arts and cultural organizations. It is a driver for economic activity that we re-invest... to further drive sales tax, which is our largest revenue in county government," he said.

McMahon is looking to pursue criminal charges against the Patel Group, which owns four local hotels, and the Tramz Group, owners of four other area hotels.  He says Tramz owes $295,000 of room taxes, some dating back to 2015; while the Patel Group is current on one property, but years behind on three others.  He’s asking the District Attorney to get involved, because unlike property taxes, the hotels collected room taxes from customers and withheld them.  McMahon also announced an effort to seize the Days Inn on Thompson Road from owners Orientalis Corporation, which face foreclosure.

The Days Inn in Syracuse owes the county over $500,000. McMahon plans to seize the property from its owners, the Orientalis Corporation, to recoup lost revenue.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

"My thought process when I see [a lapse in payment] is that they are in the process of throwing in the towel maybe, and so that's probably why they stopped paying, but property taxes and mortgage payments are one thing, but your room tax is a lot different. We believe that it is absolutely a criminal matter, and that these principles are certainly going to be held liable to that,"  McMahon said.

The Days Inn owners defaulted on two prior installment agreements and owe a total of $500,000.  Once seized, the county could market it to another buyer to both recoup funds and make it a productive, tax-paying property again.