Illinois Brewery Crowdfunding to Pay Outstanding Sales Taxes

Austin Ray

THE GIST
Cademon Brewing of Genoa, Illinois is really hoping drinkers are in the spirit of giving this holiday season. The brewery has launched an IndieGoGo campaign in hopes of raising $18,000 to pay outstanding sales taxes it failed to report as the result of a mix-up with the state’s Department of Revenue. And it can’t sell beer to dig itself out of the hole because the state has placed a hold on its liquor license. So now, Cademon has turned to the public and is offering a number of rewards to those who donate, including merchandise and vouchers for weekly fills. The two-year-old operation says if it fails to raise the necessary funds, it could very well be forced to close shop forever. (The company also sells craft soda, which it hopes will float them in the meantime.) 

WHY IT MATTERS  
“Make sure you pay your taxes,” Richard Nixon once quipped. “Otherwise you can get in a lot of trouble.” That’s some savvy shit for a crook. 
 
Here’s what happened: In 2015, Cademon had been operating on an annual sales tax reporting period, and, according to owner Andrew Nordman, had budgeted to pay those taxes with revenues earned from its anniversary and New Year’s Eve party. Unbeknownst to the company, though, the Department of Revenue changed its status to file monthly, rather than annually. 
 
That the Dept. of Revenue changed Cademon’s status is fairly standard procedure in the state, as the agency performs annual reviews based on monthly sales tax filings “to determine if an entity should be filing Monthly, Quarterly or on an annual basis,” according to an agency spokesman. “If an entity’s tax filing status changes, they are sent a letter from Revenue and, usually, contacted by our Collections Division for open months,” the spokesman tells GBH. 

All of which leaves open the question: how did Cademon miss this notification? Nordman continues: “The brewery doesn’t have a mailbox, so mail coverage is spotty and things get misplaced. Clearly a mistake, but we were not aware of the change.” 
 
Which brings us to IndieGoGo. I don’t think I’m forsaking the journalistic doctrine of objectivity to say that asking patrons to pay taxes you missed comes off as a wee bit gauche. Nordman recognizes the move as such, telling GBH, “I absolutely own the mistake and understand any criticism of our plight.” Then again, given that the company has already raised almost 40% of what it needs in a matter of days, it does seem people are, in fact, charitably understanding of the company’s situation.  
 
That said, it’s tough to imagine crowdfunding proving to be a viable route out of self-dug holes like this one for future businesses, even if it works for Cademon. Startups and huge players alike have both turned to the public to get off the ground or finance expansions, of course. But this situation is obviously not like those. So while Nixon’s quote certainly serves as one moral to be taken from this story, here’s another: Breweries, have a mailbox!

—Dave Eisenberg
 
READ MORE
Call for a Cademon Comeback [IndieGoGo]