- Associated Press - Sunday, December 13, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Five Arkansas lawmakers or companies connected to them have state tax liens filed against them, according to state Department of Finance and Administration records.

The liens range from more than $29,000 against state Rep. Bob Johnson, D-Jacksonville, to more than $2,000 against Gillam Farms, whose vice president is House Speaker Jeremy Gillam.

Others with state liens filed against them are Reps. Mickey Gates, R-Hot Springs, and Eddie Armstrong, D-North Little Rock, and a business whose president is Rep. Charles Blake, D-Little Rock, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported (https://bit.ly/1OpMAmT ).

A lien is a legal claim or hold on a piece of property as security for the payment of a debt. Jake Bleed, a spokesman for the Department of Finance and Administration, said the liens against the five lawmakers or their businesses are all active and haven’t been released.

A lien can be released if the person pays the amount owed or if the person shows that the department made a mistake and doesn’t owe anything, Bleed said.

Johnson, a certified public accountant serving his first term in the state House, said he recently completed paying off the tax liens.

Gates said he’s hoping to pay off a 2014 state tax lien early next year.

Blake said the tax lien filed against the company he’s president of by the Department of Workforce Services resulted from “an oversight,” and he hopes to resolve it soon.

Armstrong, who’s served in the state House since 2013, said he’s paid off the latest two liens filed against him.

And Gillam, a Republican from Judsonia who is vice president of Gillam Farms, said his brother Doug Gillam - who is president of Gillam Farms - told him that what is owed isn’t the taxes themselves, but penalty and interest from earlier years. Gillam said his brother hopes to resolve the liens soon.

In the fiscal year ending June 30, the finance department filed 28,953 in tax liens seeking to recover $127.2 million in taxes, according to finance department records.

After collecting $40.8 million for fiscal 2015, $86.4 million still hasn’t been paid, records show.


Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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