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Orangeburg business owner accused of failing to pay taxes after not reporting $6.2M in sales

John W. Ewing III
John W. Ewing III((Source: South Carolina Department of Revenue/WIS))
Published: Apr. 19, 2021 at 3:43 PM EDT
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ORANGEBURG, S.C. (WIS) - A business owner in Orangeburg is facing numerous charges for failing to pay taxes after not reporting $6.2 million in sales, officials say.

According to officials with the South Carolina Department of Revenue, deputies arrested John W. Ewing III, 42, of Orangeburg, and charged him with 12 counts of failing to pay taxes, file a return and keep records after not reporting millions of dollars in purchases on Excise Tax and Sales Tax returns.

Ewing is the owner of Mae Etta Distribution, LLC, seller of “other tobacco products” and other novelty items. “Other tobacco products” can include items such as cigars, chewing tobacco, pipe tobacco and snuff.

Officials say Ewing used the SCDOR issued Wholesale License to Purchase, Sell, and Distribute Manufactured Tobacco in Georgia to purchase OTP tax free.

Warrants indicate that Ewing imported his purchases into South Carolina without paying the required Excise Tax. Ewing then sold OTP at retail, primarily as a vendor at a local flea market.

Officials say Ewing could not provide SCDOR agents with the name of any customers who would be considered distributors, which would have allowed his sales to be tax exempt.

According to officials, Ewing failed to timely file Excise Tax and Sales Tax returns from August 2014 through 2019. In total, they say he failed to timely report $5,788,300 of gross purchases on Excise Tax returns and failed to remit $289,415 of Excise Tax. Also, Ewing failed to timely report $6,291,221 of gross proceeds on Sales Tax returns and failed to remit $377,473 in state Sales Tax.

If convicted, Ewing faces a maximum sentence of one year in prison and/or a fine of $10,000 per count.

Ewing is being held in the Orangeburg-Calhoun Regional Detention Center pending a bond hearing.

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