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On The Money: Update On Lyon’s Of California

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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – There are new developments on one of California’s top tax deadbeats – a story that On The Money first reported three weeks ago.

Lyon’s of Californian still owes $4 million in back taxes, according to the Board of Equalization.

CBS13 revisited the restaurant, seeking answers. The manager there told us to contact the owner – and later we received a phone call from David Nguyen, who identified himself as the new owner of Lyons Restaurant in Sacramento. Nguyen sent us a document showing he bought the restaurant on J Street back in 2009, clear of any tax liens.

Nguyen told us the debt belongs to the previous owners – and said his company owes nothing to the State of California.

The former owners of Lyon’s did not return our phone calls.

But current customers told us those back taxes are important to California’s economy.

“They should pay like everybody else and pay their taxes,” said Maria Sorber. “I just paid mine,” she added.

“They’ve been here for a long time though so it’s sad,” said Judy Jasperson. “But I guess it’s the economy.”

That $4 million in back taxes could provide free tuition for 670 college students at Sacramento State (tuition is $5,970 per student for 2012-13) – or 328 students at UC Davis (tuition is $12,192 according to figures provided by the Department of Finance).

“It seems like they need to stay on top of their bills also,” said Jose Moyo, another Lyons customer.

Meanwhile the landscape around Lyon’s will soon be changing. CBS 13 has obtained a copy of a building permit containing plans for new investors to pump in more than half a million dollars, the new owner told CBS13, to convert the eatery into another restaurant – Mel’s Diner – before summer.

Mel’s is a 1950s style restaurant.

So how will California collect the $4 million owed in back taxes from the previous owners? The Board of Equalization has already placed a tax lien on them – and they can also enforce the lien against their homes in case they try to sell or refinance. And starting in July, state agencies can revoke drivers’ licenses and occupational licenses for anyone who name appears on the list of the 500 top tax deadbeats.

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