The Illinois Department of Revenue has closed Larson Funeral Home in Rock Island for failure to pay its sales taxes, but owner Chris Larson said he can continue to operate as long as he does does not sell funeral merchandise.
The Department of Revenue revoked the funeral home's business license March 26, but the state agency declined to disclose the amount of unpaid taxes or for how long the business has owed them, said Sue Hofer, department of revenue spokeswoman.
Mr. Larson's funeral director/embalmer license, issued by the Division of Professional Regulation, is unaffected by the department's action. He faces no disciplinary action.
"It's the funeral home's taxes that's the issue," she said.
The Department of Revenue tries to work with businesses to get back taxes paid, Ms. Hofer said. Revoking the funeral home's license is "a very drastic step."
Ms. Hofer said the business would remain closed until the company made good on its taxes and filed its tax return.
However, Mr. Larson said Wednesday the funeral home remains open for business and is only banned from selling merchandise.
"It was a misunderstanding," he said. "We thought they were working with us," on the question of back sales taxes until the state's representative arrived and posted the notice on the door.
Illinois does not tax professional services, but it does apply sales tax on merchandise, including caskets and vaults in the funeral business.
"Selling merchandise is only a part of what we do," Mr. Larson said.
He said he would seek clarification from the revenue department on whether he can continue his funeral business. He did not say how he could proceed with funeral services without selling caskets or vaults.
The Department of Revenue revoked Mr. Larson's certificate of registration, which means he is banned from selling "tangible personal property," Ms. Hofer said. "If he sells tangible personal property he is subject to a Class A misdemeanor."
A conviction on a Class A misdemeanor could bring a fine and up to 364 days in jail.
The Department of Revenue had place a "license revoked notice" on the main door of the business at 2106 7th Ave., Rock Island. That notice had been removed Wednesday morning when newspaper photographers sought to photograph the notice.
A woman answering the phone at the funeral home said the business office was closed Wednesday afternoon and would reopen Thursday morning.
The Revenue Department's sign could have been removed because the taxes had been paid or the owner removed the sign, Ms. Hofer said. "The department has been told that the sign is no longer up and they will follow up," she said.
Mr. Larson owns funeral homes in Rock Island and at 430 W. 2nd Ave, Milan. Mr. Larson said he has a possible buyer for the Milan location.
Last year, Mr. Larson's ex-wife, Mary W. Larson, won a settlement in Rock Island County Circuit Court for $136,318.43 for unpaid work she did at the funeral home and other unspecified expenses incurred during their six-year marriage. The Larsons' divorce was granted in March 2006.
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