A federal court has ordered James Watts and eight corporations to begin paying employment taxes to the United States on a timely basis, the Justice Department announced today. According to the government complaint in the case, Watts, of Bettendorf, Iowa, is the president of Watts Trucking Service, Inc., an Iowa corporation, of which the other seven corporations are subsidiaries. The complaint alleges that the companies fail to pay over to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) all of their employment and unemployment taxes, including the income and social security taxes withheld from their employees’ wages.
Chief Judge James E. Gritzner of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa entered the preliminary injunction order, which requires Watts and the companies to comply with federal employment tax filing, deposit, and payment requirements, and to certify to the government that they have done so. The injunction also prohibits the defendants from closing a waste-handling business and reopening it under a new name without the written consent of the government.
According to the complaint, Watts has formed and controlled at least 23 different business entities over the past two decades, most of which have accrued delinquent tax liabilities. The complaint states that the defendant corporations, along with 15 inactive entities, owe the government over $30 million in federal employment and unemployment taxes.
The preliminary injunction will remain in effect while the case proceeds to final judgment. Violation of an injunction can result in civil and criminal sanctions, including fines and imprisonment.
In the past decade, the Justice Department’s Tax Division has obtained hundreds of injunctions prohibiting a wide variety of improper conduct, including repeated non-payment of employment taxes. Information about these cases is available on the Justice Department website .