Many states depend on sales taxes to add to their coffers. So when sellers don't remit the proper tax amounts, they take it seriously.
Illinois is a prime example, especially when it comes to taxable fuel sales. For years, the state's tax department and Attorney General's office have been cracking down on gas tax fraud.
And their efforts are continuing to pay off.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced Oct. 23 that her Special Prosecutions Bureau and the Illinois Department of Revenue's Bureau of Criminal Investigation have recovered more than $100 million for the state thanks to their gas sales tax enforcement focus.
That impressive tax collection amount earns it this week's By the Numbers honors.
In addition to the recovered tax money, Madigan noted that Illinois officials have so far charged 50 gas station owners with illegally withholding a portion of the sales taxes their customers paid at the pump. Forty of the station owners have been convicted, with many of them now cooling their heels in jail.
The gas sales tax collection effort also has brought the state tens of thousands of additional dollars thanks to tax audits, said Madigan.
New gas tax evasion statutes: It also has led to new laws, in effect since Jan. 1, that aid prosecutors in pursuit of gas tax evaders.
Illinois businesses and retailers that don't pay the state the gas taxes it is owed now can face sales tax evasion charges that carry graduated penalties based on the amount of sales taxes that were unpaid.
Madigan said the success of the gas sales tax effort demonstrates Illinois' "commitment to holding tax cheats accountable and to recovering money that should have gone to the state in the first place."
Brian Hamer, director of the state's Department of Revenue, echoed those sentiments.
"This effort reflects the outstanding work of a team of investigators, auditors and legal staff," said Hamer. "It shows our commitment to identify tax cheats, require them to pay the taxes they owe and obtain appropriate punishment, including prison time."
You also might find these items of interest: