Sea Dreams is closed and seized by the state

WICHITA — In November, Sea Dreams owner Lynne Penny told Have You Heard? she was going to try to keep her store open despite being more than $76,000 behind in state taxes.

“I’ve been trying to work it out with them for about two years now,” she said at the time.

It didn’t work.

The state seized Penny’s assets and this week closed the 10,000-square-foot store, which sells fish, aquariums and related products.

Sea Dreams has been on East Harry in front of Office This for four of its 10 years in business.

The state says Penny owes more than $500,000 in back taxes.

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Clear Lakes Cafe reopens

UPDATED — Thanks to an apparently accommodating landlord, Clear Lakes Cafe is back open.

The state seized and closed Paul Fleming’s restaurant on 21st Street just west of Amidon on Thursday afternoon for nonpayment of more than $28,000 in taxes.

Fleming’s landlord stepped in to pay those taxes today.

“That’s right,” Fleming says. “That’s what happened.”

It’s not clear if the landlord paid simply to keep a restaurant at his development or if it’s because he has equipment in the building that the state would have sold at public auction to cover the taxes.

“I have no idea,” Fleming says.

He says the 2-year-old restaurant had a tough winter.

“I mean a bad winter,” Fleming says. He says that’s what led to him getting behind on taxes.

In an e-mailed statement, Kansas Department of Revenue spokeswoman Freda Warfield said: “Only after several unsuccessful attempts does the Department take this type of aggressive warrant execution action of seizing assets, which in this instance resulted in the business being closed.”

Fleming says it was just “a little misunderstanding with the state.”

He says he changed residences and that could have led to missed letters.

“I called them, and they said I didn’t, and blah, blah, blah,” Fleming says.

“I tried to call them several times, and they never answered,” he says. “I don’t really know what happened on that end.”

In a follow-up phone interview when asked to respond to Fleming’s comments, Warfield said she can’t talk about a specific taxpayer, but she did offer several general thoughts.

“The Department of Revenue never wants to put anybody out of business,” she said. “We don’t want to do that.”

Warfield said the standard practice with businesses behind in taxes is to “communicate with them as much as possible” and work out a repayment plan.

“But sometimes the state is left with no choice but to protect the money of Kansans,” Warfield said, “. . . and sometimes they have to go to the extreme of closing down a business.”

State says Connie’s Cookies behind on taxes; Connie Hamilton says not true

WICHITA — Business may not be booming for Connie’s Cookies right now, but owner Connie Hamilton says it’s not so bad that she should be having tax trouble.

Still, records show she owes $17,772 in sales tax and $1,264 in withholding tax.

Hamilton says those numbers are inflated, and they shouldn’t indicate that she’s behind.

The problem, she says, started in 2008 when she switched from a sole proprietorship to a corporation.

“My tax stuff has been going in against the wrong ID number,” Hamilton says.

“They were putting it against the sole proprietor number, which is now defunct.”

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