KEITH WHITCOMB JR.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect new information that was not available at press time. After the article was printed, T.J. Carmody supplied the Banner with a letter from the Vermont Department of Taxes saying his wife, Suzanne Carmody, is not being held personally liable for Ropa Restaurant Inc.'s alleged tax obligations.
BENNINGTON -- The Vermont Department of Taxes claims the owner of Carmody's Irish Pub, a popular restaurant and bar which closed at the start of this year, owes $34,000 in meals taxes and interest.
The complaint was filed March 11 in Bennington Superior Court Civil Division by Assistant Attorney General Will S. Baker on behalf of the tax department. It names Thomas J. "T.J." Carmody his wife, Suzanne Carmody, and Ropa Restaurant Inc., the corporate name for Carmody's Irish Pub, as defendants.
Calls made to Carmody Thursday for comment were not returned, but on Friday Carmody supplied the Banner with a letter sent to his wife by Gloria Perry, tax compliance unit supervisor, saying that she is not being considered responsible for the tax obligation and is not considered a responsible officer in the company.
Baker wrote that the company's officers are responsible for the meals taxes and that because they did not petition the state for a hearing on the meals tax assessment, "the assessment is fixed as a matter of law."
Baker did not return calls Thursday seeking comment.
Carmody's last day of operation was Jan. 1. The Main Street pub's closing was not announced ahead of time except to a few staff members the night before.
T.J. Carmody told the Banner the day of the closing that the business had been struggling with declining revenues for the past few years and his original intention was to close before the end of 2012, however he wanted to keep going through the holidays for the sake of his employees. He also said he had made arrangements for Carmody's gift certificates to be honored at certain local restaurants.
Carmody, a veteran of the restaurant business, had no plans to leave his profession and said he would reopen the former Carmody's West establishment in Hoosick, N.Y., not far west of Bennington. Now called "The Ploughman's Pub," it opened in February.
Carmody said in January that people seemed to be eating out less in recent times, given the economy, and making payroll and tax obligations was becoming difficult. He said the recently completed Route 279 East project, which provides a way around Bennington from Route 9 to Route 7, was a factor in the loss of business.
While Carmody seemed to downplay the role of Route 279 East, some of his employees said its effect had been significant on the amount of customers, especially seasonal ones, at the restaurant.
Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr