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Gunning’s Seafood Under the Gun

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City Paper has a soft spot for Gunning’s Seafood, having given it awards for “Best Crab Cake” (1997) and “Best Crab House” (2007). Its roots are in the city—rough-and-tough Brooklyn in South Baltimore—but its long-ago move to an office park in Hanover, in Anne Arundel County, near BWI, seemed to coincide with better fortunes. Rather than share a piece of those fortunes with the government, as required, Gunning’s has been dodging taxes with impunity, the feds now say, and they’re seeking to make the place pay up and fly straight.

If the feds are right, Gunning’s “has ignored the tax laws since 2005 by refusing to timely file its federal employment tax returns and to pay these tax liabilities”—to the tune of $309,691.88, as of May 7, 2012—according to a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice on Oct. 19 that seeks to recover the amounts owed, plus interest and penalties, and to force Gunning’s to comply going forward.

This year, Gunning’s tried to make up for lost ground by making federal tax deposits 26 times, but all save two of those deposits “failed due to insufficient funds” and the company “did not resubmit those deposits,” the lawsuit says. Also named as a defendant is Gunning’s owner and operator, Edward Gunning Jr.

“Failing to pay its employment and unemployment tax liabilities gives” Gunning’s “an unfair economic advantage over its competitors who comply with the law,” the lawsuit says. By “halting their wrongful practices” with a court order, the lawsuit says, “fair competition” may be restored.

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