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Mayoral candidate says he’s on IRS tax payment plan

Of the three candidates who want to be mayor of Brookhaven, one is in debt to the IRS for more than $282,000 — at least on paper.

In fact, of the 24 candidates running for public office in the municipal election, only one — John S. Roberts Jr. — comes up in a search at the Lincoln County Chancery Clerk’s office for candidates who owe the government for income taxes debt.

According to public records filed in Chancery Court, Roberts, 63, has notices of federal tax liens filed for the following amounts: $142,282 (2005); $72,995 (2008); $51,015 (2009); 20 cents (2010) and $15,793 (2012).

That’s nearly $282,000. However, Roberts, who is running for mayor as a Republican, said he has settled some of the debt but hasn’t received a release notice from the IRS.

“It takes a while,” he said. “Most of them have been worked out and releases are coming.”

Liens filed in Chancery Court don’t typically show payments made, only the full amounts owed at the time the document is filed.

According to the IRS, a federal tax lien is the government’s legal claim against your property when you neglect or fail to pay a tax debt. The lien protects the government’s interest in all your property, including real estate, personal property and financial assets.

For a federal tax lien to exist, three things have to happen. The IRS puts a balance on the books, — which is assessing the taxpayer’s liability — and sends a bill explaining how much is owed to the IRS.

And finally, the taxpayers neglects or refuses to fully pay the debt in time, which causes the IRS to file a public document, called a Notice of Federal Tax Lien, to alert creditors that the government has a legal right to the debtor’s property.

Paying the tax debt in full is the best way to get rid of the federal tax lien. The IRS releases a lien within 30 days after the account is settled, according to the IRS’s website.

Roberts said he’s filed his taxes for the past seven years, though he’s showing a lien of nearly $16,000 for 2012.

He said he’s paid some of what he owes the government and is on an installment payment plan for the rest. Payments should be completed by 2019, he said.

He did not say how much of the $282,000 he still owes.

Roberts is a self-employed independent gas and oil operator.

Two of his past debts with the IRS were paid, according to court records.

He has a notice of federal tax lien for 1996 for $7,336, which was filed in April 2006. It was paid October 2006 and a certificate of release of the tax lien was issued. He also has a notice concerning tax liens for money owed in 2006 for $5,782 and 2007 for $27,273. That lien notice was filed in April 2006 and paid October of that same year.

John Roberts Jr.