State, IRS aim tax liens at Redmond County councilman denies being overdue on $32,987

He calls it 'a mistake'

Dispute involves his auto parts, towing business

January 18, 1996|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

CLARIFICATION

An article in yesterday's Howard County edition of The Sun may have suggested that Dominic LaPonzina, an Internal Revenue Service spokesman, talked about federal tax liens filed against County Councilman Thomas W. Redmond Sr. Mr. LaPonzina discussed only rules regarding tax liens in general.

Anne Arundel County Councilman Thomas W. Redmond Sr. owes up to $32,987 in overdue state and federal taxes for his Pasadena towing and auto parts business, according to court documents.

Liens at the Anne Arundel County Courthouse show that Redmond's Inc. owes up to $31,264 to the Internal Revenue Service and up to $1,723 to the state comptroller for taxes due last year and in 1994.

Mr. Redmond, a Democrat who described himself as a fiscal conservative in his 1994 campaign for the council, said yesterday that he knew nothing about owing state taxes. He said he owes no federal taxes and that the federal lien was filed only because of an oversight by the IRS.

"This is a mistake on their part," he said in an interview.

Mr. Redmond said his problems began when lightning struck his shop in the 8200 block of Baltimore & Annapolis Blvd. in August 1993, wiping out computerized financial records for the shop for much of that year.

He said his clerks overestimated sales receipts when they re-entered the information for the early part of 1993. After the shop's 1993 return was filed, his accountants told him that the business, which has 20 employees, might qualify for a federal tax credit, Mr. Redmond said.

He displayed a Dec. 11, 1994, letter from the IRS saying that he was being given credit for $24,336 for taxes overpaid for the 1993 tax year and said he was negotiating the amount of the credit he was owed late last year when the lien was filed.

3' "It came out of the blue," he said.

Four notices

Dominic LaPonzina, an IRS spokesman, said a federal tax lien "is not something that's news to the taxpayer."

A delinquent taxpayer receives four notices over seven or eight weeks before a federal tax lien is filed, he said.

pTC The federal lien, filed Dec. 5, 1995, shows $22,185 overdue in payroll withholding taxes and $9,079 overdue in corporate taxes for 1994 and 1995.

The state lien shows $1,484 owed for payroll withholding taxes, $112 in interest and $127 in penalties for 1995.

Mr. LaPonzina said that federal privacy laws prevented him from discussing Mr. Redmond's case. He said that Mr. Redmond might have paid off part of the debt but that the lien would remain on file until the full amount was paid.

Mr. Redmond said he owes no money to the IRS. He produced a Dec. 8, 1995, notice known as a release of levy, which was issued by the IRS to Mr. Redmond's bank, the Bank of Glen Burnie, that he said effectively released him from the federal lien.

Cleared credit

Mr. Redmond said that to secure the release, he paid $3,400 to IRS representatives in Annapolis, which cleared his line of credit with the bank.

"They wouldn't have given me this unless I satisfied the lien," Mr. Redmond said.

Mr. LaPonzina said businesses often are given release of levy notices, even when they still owe taxes.

Such releases often are issued if the taxpayer can demonstrate a hardship in meeting payrolls or other expenses, he said.

"Release of a levy is something separate and apart from the release of the lien. You can very easily have one and not the other," Mr. LaPonzina said.

Unless Mr. Redmond has a release of lien, he still owes all or part of the $31,264, the IRS official said.

Mr. Redmond said he knew nothing about the state tax lien, which was filed in the Annapolis courthouse Dec. 12, but Marvin Bond, a spokesman for the state comptroller, said the office sends at least three notices to a delinquent taxpayer before filing a lien.

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