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State seizes Margarita's over alleged tax issue

By Howard B. Owens

Margarita's Mexican Restaurant was shut down by the New York Department of Taxation and Finance just before noon today. The only information from officials on scene was that it was a "tax issue."

Tax Compliance Agent Elizabeth Schmidt, hanging the "seized" sign above, provided The Batavian with a phone number for the department's press office. We're expecting a call back. While Schmidt posted the sign, a locksmith was busy changing the locks. The business won't reopen until all back taxes are paid.

UPDATE: Susan Burns, spokeswoman for the taxation department called: Best Margarita's Grill, Inc. owes taxes on four warrants, with the oldest being back sales taxes from the second quarter of 2009. The four warrants total $32,914.

"We're in the process of working with the taxpayer and the indication is we will work something out fairly quickly," Burns said. "They should be re-opening soon."

The four warrants: Aug. 5 -- $16,166 for sales tax; Aug. 5 -- $1,373, for corporate tax; July 1 -- $64 for corporate tax; and April 2 -- $15,311 for sales tax.

"We always try to work with the taxpayer and negotiate a settlement," Burns said. "It's best that the business stay open for the community and that's what we work to see happen."

UPDATE: WBTA also learned that Margarita's reportedly had additional tax warrants dating back to 2007 that were paid. The total of the paid-up back taxes is $14,246.

Paula Ferraro

This is just awful! Where am I going to get my weekly dose of authentic salsa and chalupas? I feel like an addict whose supply has just been cut off....

Aug 18, 2010, 1:23pm Permalink
Jason Crater

Oh man. I love this place and am disappointed to see it close. I never make it there as often as I'd like, but I've also never had a bad meal.

That Taco Place, while a fantastic local restaurant, does not compare to Margaritas, and to say otherwise is ridiculous, IMO.

Aug 18, 2010, 2:14pm Permalink


Posted by Mary E DelPlato on August 18, 2010 - 2:01pm
...they pay their taxes...

You don't know the whole situation, so I think it's a little ridiculous for you to make that comment. We have no idea why they did this. There has been an extreme uptick in the way the state has been "auditing" businesses. They have been creating tax bills based off of completely mythical scales amd telling owners that they need to pay uncomprehensible amounts.

We do not know if the owners have either not been paying, or have been cited by one of these people. either way, your assumptions are poor. How do you even know That Taco Place is up to date on all of their taxes? Are you the owner?

This is a great establishment and I truly hope it re-opens. I dislike this state so much.

Aug 18, 2010, 2:38pm Permalink
Bryant Tyson

You have to remember to a nonmeat eater a bean burrito does not change much place to place. You can't compare a drive thru with a sit down homemade meal. I like them both. I Hope Margarita's can reopen soon.

Aug 18, 2010, 3:08pm Permalink
kevin kretschmer

Corporate Taxes aren't estimated and they are due annually. Secondly, Tax Agents don't just show up at your place of business and sticker the door. Non-compliance would have been going on for a while prior to that happening.

Aug 18, 2010, 3:09pm Permalink
JoAnne Rock

I agree with Phil. This may be a case of one of NYS's famous 1-day audits and extrapolated figures resulting in a huge tax bill, like what happened to the LB Grand in Leroy. It may have nothing to do with non-compliance.

Aug 18, 2010, 3:30pm Permalink
Tim Howe

I absolutely love Margarita's and I hope this is no long term thing. "That taco place" is ok at best, and is a decent last resort, but they couldnt hold a chalupa to Margarita's :)

The only good thing about having one of your favorite resturants closed down is hearing that its for tax evasion and not health code problems :)

Aug 18, 2010, 5:12pm Permalink
Brenda Ranney

We eloped on a thursday, married by a city judge and had a great dinner @ Margarta's. They have to reopen, were else will we go for our 5th anniversery?
Tim couldn't agree more with you. I have always found this resturant to be clean. Hopefully the community will remember that this break isn't about code violations.

Aug 18, 2010, 9:26pm Permalink
Thomas Schneider

"...July 1st $64..." This state really is desperate. How can they pay the money back, if they owe it, if they're not open for business. Maybe the state should cut these businesses a break, after all they're acting as tax agents for the state and not being compensated.

Aug 18, 2010, 10:29pm Permalink
Herbert Neal

My question is, I just bought a "Deal of The Day" for Margarita's from "The Batavian" does that mean my $11 that I paid for the "deal" got SEIZED by "The Batavian"?

Aug 18, 2010, 11:07pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

If Margarita's hasn't reopened within a couple of weeks, we'll issue refunds to anybody who mails us back the unused GC.

I just had somebody file a dispute on PayPal for a refund, which I denied because I believe Margarita's will reopen.

Aug 19, 2010, 6:31am Permalink
Scott Birkby

That's pretty typical of New York State. Come in at lunchtime and throw the patrons out. Too bad that the restaurant wasn't apparently as "fiscally responsible" as the great leaders of the SSNY (Socialist State of New York). Every tax dollar is desperately needed to pay for the cost of imprisoning half of our population (our largest industry).

Last one (not in prison), turn out the lights!

Aug 19, 2010, 7:37am Permalink
Lori Silvernail

I don't understand why there have to be put-downs of That Taco Place just because Margarita's is shut down. Maybe some of you think Margarita's is more authentic Mexican food or you prefer sit down to take out meals, but That Taco Place is a favorite of many of us. It's hard to beat Joe's friendliness, prices and consistency...and I think the food is yummy!

Aug 19, 2010, 8:55am Permalink
Herbert Neal

File a dispute w/ paypal...that is a excessive to do at this point. I knew Howard would take care of it, and I'm fine w/ waiting the 2 weeks.

Aug 19, 2010, 9:01am Permalink
Jeremiah Pedro


I don't think people were putting That taco place down as much as they were voicing their opinion. Where as Mary pretty much put Margarita's down with the quip about how That Taco Place pays they're taxes.

I have to be honest, I have only eaten at That Taco Place once when I first moved to Batavia back in 2006. Having been able to get really good Mexican food 24 hours a day for most of my life, That Taco Place was some what of a let down. Margarita's has Mexican food that I am more accustomed to. However their prices do not compare with the prices I paid in southern California. I used to be able to get a large carne asada burrito from Colima's in Oceanside, CA for less than four dollars. The Colorado burrito at Margarita's is like ten dollars. Needless to say I don't eat Mexican cuisine as often as I use to.

Aug 19, 2010, 12:58pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Jeremiah, have you had Mexican food in California recently.

For example, on Tuesday in Bakersfield, we stopped at one place and ordered two orders of rolled tacos and two drinks -- $16. I was shocked.

We stopped at Mexican food stands on five different occasions and all but once I was surprised by how much prices have increased.

Aug 19, 2010, 1:05pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Chris, I ordered carne asada burritos in Margarita's a couple of times. It was kind of a hassle because not every member of the wait staff understood what I wanted, but when they got it right, it was quite good.

Usually, at Margarita's I order what they call the dasada tacos, which is the closest thing you can get to street tacos in New York (that I've found).

Aug 19, 2010, 1:56pm Permalink
Tim Howe

My favorite at Margarita's are the fajita's, you can always hear them coming before you see them, plus its really funny when they set the fire alarm off :)

Aug 19, 2010, 2:00pm Permalink
Gabor Deutsch

I guess I am spoiled because I have Mexican friends that cook traditional dishes and share them with me. Not the American or Tex-Mex style either. I will say that I enjoy a Burrito or two from That Taco Place. I never tried South beach, or Margaritas and the only time I was in Taco Bell was for a quick trip to the bathroom.

Aug 19, 2010, 2:08pm Permalink
Lori Silvernail

Jeremiah wrote: I don't think people were putting That taco place down as much as they were voicing their opinion. Where as Mary pretty much put Margarita's down with the quip about how That Taco Place pays they're taxes.

Jeremiah, I'll buy that. And you're right, we don't know who actually pays their taxes, so that post isn't fair either.

But...! :-)

Aug 19, 2010, 3:00pm Permalink
Gabor Deutsch

I guess some people really do Love Taco Bell.
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Aug 19, 2010, 3:13pm Permalink
Doug Yeomans

Posted by kevin kretschmer on August 18, 2010 - 3:09pm
Corporate Taxes aren't estimated and they are due annually. Secondly, Tax Agents don't just show up at your place of business and sticker the door. Non-compliance would have been going on for a while prior to that happening.


I guess you missed this report if you don't think the state will just come in and hand you a guestimated tax bill:…

"L.B. Grand generates $600,000 a year in revenue for New York, and that doesn't count the taxes paid by six employees"

I don't think Margarita's generates anywhere near that kind of tax revenue but the point is, the state can do whatever it wants, whenever it wants. NY is not a business friendly state and everyone knows it.

Maybe I'm mistaken but I believe that business taxes are due quarterly and then a final adjustment is made at the end of the business year when filing is due.

Aug 19, 2010, 6:01pm Permalink
Mary E DelPlato

lmao bryant...anyway...the department of tax and finance closed it down so der der its a given the reasons the doors were closed and not suprised by anything that closes...oh...and theyre mexican...mmph

Aug 20, 2010, 1:03pm Permalink

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