Popular East Austin restaurant owes more $92,000 in state sales taxes

A popular Austin BBQ hot spot is feeling the heat from the state of Texas after failing to pay sales taxes for the past three years.

"A lien was filed against this particular tax payer for failure to pay sales tax and (Friday) the property was seized for back taxes in the amount of just over $92,000," Chris Bryan, a spokesman for the State Comptroller Office, said.

Signs cover much of the John Mueller Meat Company restaurant in East Austin and and customers are locked out from getting any of John Mueller's famous brisket.

"We have attempted multiple times to work with this tax payer to resolve this liability and at this point our office felt like the seizure of assets was the best way to try and resolve this liability for the tax payers of Texas," Bryan said.

Bryan said his office and Mueller have been doing battle since 2013. Bryan said Mueller has also been operating without a sales tax permit and the $92,000 he owes, actually belongs to the customers he serves.

"The customer pays this money, the business owner holds it in trust and transfers it to the state. So when a business fails to pay sales tax liabilities to the state, they are not stealing money from the state, they are stealing the tax payers money who paid that money initially," Bryan said.

Bryan said that money would eventually be given back to the city to be used to help pay for schools, roads, and other city services. But until Mueller settles his tab with the state, his smokers maybe shut down for good.

"Every circumstance is different and obviously there are situations where tax payers are confused or may not know that they owe a certain amount of money and we always work with tax payers to try to solve those liabilities." Bryan said, "But in this case we've attempted to work with the tax payer repeatedly and this seizure has come about as a means to try and ultimately resolve that $92,000 liability."

The State Comptroller said Mueller has 20 days to reach an agreement to pay back the money owed. If an agreement is not reached, the state will permanently shut down the business and liquidate its assets.