That's exactly what happened to James and Carrie McHam, of Russellville.
"We were hoping to make a living, you know, support our kids," said James McHam. He and his wife of almost 10 years spent their life savings to buy a small restaurant.
The couple got a $55,000 15-year loan to buy the place in Dardanelle on May 11. Comes July 6, a state tax agent shows up and tells them they have to close their doors immediately since the previous owner hasn't paid last year's sales tax.
The previous owner, Leon Lane Sr., would not speak to KARK News about this story.
Now the Country Kitchen has a padlock on it's front door and the McHam's have no recourse. They cannot afford an attorney.
This happens to other folks who buy a business without doing their due diligence to make sure all taxes are paid up first, said John Theis, Deputy Commissioner with the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.
"Buyer, do your homework," he warns.
Even though the McHam's have all the legal paperwork proving they bought the restaurant and paid their first installment, for now they are stuck.
"I don't understand how this could happen but look out," McHam said of the situation.