A D.C. Council member who serves on a powerful finance committee is facing a federal lien seeking more than $50,000 in unpaid income taxes — the third city lawmaker to face scrutiny over personal or tax debts in recent months.
Mr. Brown, a lawyer who won citywide office in 2008, is a member of the council’s Committee on Finance and Revenue, which oversees the D.C. Office of the Chief Financial Officer. That city agency is charged with collecting, budgeting and accounting for more than $7 billion each year.
Mr. Brown said he is close to paying off the tax debts. He said he has been on a scheduled installment plan with the IRS for about two years and that he’s never missed a payment. He said his last payment is scheduled for August.
“Nothing has been done wrong, zero,” he said, adding that his situation is no different from those of millions of Americans working to pay off taxes through installment plans with the IRS.
Mr. Brown said the tax issue surfaced after he took a deduction that the IRS later challenged as taxable income. He said he didn’t challenge the agency when it said that the money should have been taxed. He declined to identify the deduction he sought.
He said that his tax debt was recalculated after the IRS notified him that he couldn’t take the deduction at issue. He said his payments to close out the debt are “totally under control.”
Mr. Brown is the second council member to face a federal tax lien in recent months. In February, the IRS filed a lien against former Mayor Marion Barry, Ward 8 Democrat, citing more than $15,000 in unpaid income taxes from 2005 to 2008.
Mr. Barry’s tax troubles are more serious than a lien. Separately, he is on probation for failing to file a tax return. He pleaded guilty in 2005 to the misdemeanor charge in a case that involved more than $500,000 in income from 1999 to 2004.
An attorney for Mr. Barry called the lien routine when The Washington Times reported on the filing in March, adding that Mr. Barry already has been working to pay off his debt through a payment plan with the IRS.
A third council member had personal financial issues surface in public records recently. Last week, WRC-TV (Channel 4) reported on tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debts facing council member Kwame R. Brown, at-large Democrat. A candidate for council chairman, he told WRC-TV that he took full responsibility and that he’s cut back on his spending while working out repayment plans with creditors.
Kwame Brown is also a member of the council's finance committee. Mr. Barry sat on the panel until earlier this year, but he lost his spot when colleagues voted to censure him after a report said he violated conflict of interest rules in his handling of a contract to a former girlfriend.
The lien against Michael Brown stops short of a wage garnishment, but analysts say it is still a serious matter. The lien doesn’t mean the IRS will seize any assets or property, but it still gives tax collectors a legal claim to his property to make sure the debts are paid.View Entire Story
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Jim McElhatton is an investigative reporter for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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