If you’re going to run for political office on the stance of being a responsible public servant who represents the people, you might want to be sure you haven’t broken the law.
Earlier this week we began investigating claims that candidate for State Representative, Amanda Webster had allegedly avoided paying taxes derived from her photography business, Walter Warren Photography.
Businesses in Connecticut are required to register with the Department of Revenue Services and in applicable circumstances, collect and report sales tax.
We have now received further evidence into the allegations against Webster. Three sources that asked to remain nameless reached out to us, claiming that they had contracted the services of Walter Warren Photography in the past. They sent along what they said were the invoices received following the work.
You can clearly see that there is no sales tax included in the document. Photography services are subject to sales tax in the State of Connecticut.
And maybe just one more for good measure.
Additionally, a copy of an apparent tax fraud complaint was submitted to The Whiskey Patriots by a separate anonymous source.
Here is the complaint in its entirety.
Complaints from local customers were received and an investigation indicated that Amanda Webster is the owner of “Walter Warren Photography,” which describes itself as “Photographer servicing the Farmington Valley, for both portraiture sessions and professional needs, with a beautiful studio located in Simsbury, CT.” https://www.alignable.com/simsbury-ct/walter-warren-photography
Upon reviewing the business website (www.walter-warren.com) it was learned that “Walter Warren is owned and operated by Amanda Webster. Amanda lives in Granby, CT with her husband, Brandon, and their two sons, Henry Walter + Theodore Warren. While the business is comprised of both portrait sessions and lifestyle business photography and design, Amanda enjoys photographing her family ‘s travels the best.” The website also lists the business address as “2 Tunxis Road, Suite 210, Simsbury, CT 06081 (p) 860-819-1789. ”
Subsequently, a search of the Connecticut Secretary of State’s website was conducted for confirmation that “Walter Warren” was appropriately registered. No results were returned for “Walter Warren” or any variation of the name that is associated with Amanda Webster’s purported business. As no records were found, we contacted the Secretary of State’s Office via telephone and confirmed that “Walter Warren” is not, nor has ever been, a registered business in the State of Connecticut.
A search of Granby and Simsbury tax databases failed to reveal any tax payments made or due regarding “Walter Warren” or “Amanda Webster.” A query of tax records for 2 Tunxis Road, Simsbury, CT revealed that several businesses within suites at the location had paid taxes but “Walter Warren” was not one of those listed. An attempt to obtain business registration information from the Connecticut Department Revenue Services was made concerning “Walter Warren.” However, a social security number or a CT tax registration number is required, neither of which is available. There is no CT tax registration with the SOTS.
Photographic studio services are subject to 6.35% Connecticut sales and use taxes pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. §12-407(a)(37)(F). Photographic studio services performed in Connecticut to in-state customers and out-of state customers are subject to 6.35% sales and use taxes. The property owner of the The Mill at Tariffville at 2 Tunxis Road, Simsbury, CT, was contacted. He stated that he is familiar with Amanda Webster, as she rented a suite from him for her business, Walter Warren Photography. He stated that she first rented the suite from him “a few years ago” and was looking to take on a partner to help with business. At some point in time “Siena Photography” moved into the suite and they operated their businesses together. There do not appear to be any tax records or registration for this combined business or for “Siena Photography,” and the business relationship between these two unregistered entities is unclear – see attached document of 11/20/2016 for proof of combined business dealings. A review of Amanda Webster’s Linkedln profile indicates that she is a “Small Business Owner ” of Walter Warren Photography + Design.
Failure to assess and collect state sales tax over a period of five years this business operated out of its rented studio in a local mall, is significant and fraudulent. Failure to register this business with the SOTS, or to pay local property taxes, over a period of five years, is also significant fraud. Local customers were defrauded. DRS should compel this business owner to make restitution for unpaid taxes and assess interest and penalties. Your department should also consider prosecution for intentional violation of the state tax laws over a lengthy period of time.
The owner, Amanda Webster, has stated that she has run a photography business for five years. Her company has/had a studio in a mall in Simsbury, CT and advertised extensively on social media and elsewhere for years. A number of customers became concerned that expensive gift certificates they had purchased would not be honored and checked on the status of the company. It was then learned that the company had never been registered with or licensed by the state of CT and that there was no record of any sales tax payments on purchases that had been made over a lengthy period – five years. We are providing sample sales receipts with this report – these receipts indicate zero sales tax was collected, in willful violation of CT law (Sec. 12-737. Penalties for willful violations. (a) Any person required under this chapter to pay any tax, or required under this chapter or by regulations adopted in accordance with the provisions of this chapter to make a return, keep any records or supply any information, who willfully fails to pay such tax, make such return, keep such records or supply such information, at the time required by law or regulations, shall, in addition to any other penalty provided by law, be fined not more than one thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than one year or both.). The business owner never registered the business and attempted to “operate under the radar” of accountability and law over a lengthy period of time. This indicates a clear intent to defraud the state of CT.”
The Department of Revenue Services has not confirmed whether or not any action is being taken at this point.
When you search the phrase “requirements for business state of Connecticut” on Google, the first result that comes back provides a list of necessary steps that a business must take in order to be compliant with all CT laws and regulations.
Number one on the list? Connecticut Tax Registration…
Can’t exactly plead the ignorance card here.
The citizens of Granby that are voting on Tuesday have a right to this information.
An excerpt taken straight from Webster’s campaign website claims that, “The taxes they [the wealthy] pay are paltry compared to what you and I are giving. It’s time that they pay their fair share… we need to create multiple streams of steady revenue to help grow Connecticut’s working class.”
We’ll just leave that right there…
Written by the Whiskey Patriots Staff