Baltimore Sun

What should Bal­ti­more make of the Mos­bys’ lat­est tax lien?

- Tax Credit · Taxes · U.S. News · White-collar Crime · Fraud · Politics · Business · Crime · Baltimore · U.S. Internal Revenue Service · United States of America · Cumming

What are we to make of the $45,000 lien the IRS placed on prop­erty owned by Bal­ti­more power cou­ple Nick Mosby, a state del­e­gate and the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee to the City Coun­cil pres­i­dency, and his wife, Marilyn Mosby, the city’s state’s at­tor­ney since 2015? The Mos­bys, at least ini­tially, didn’t give us much to work with in the way of de­tails.

No­tice of the lien, which seeks to col­lect three-years-worth of un­paid fed­eral taxes, was filed in Fe­bru­ary in Bal­ti­more City Cir­cuit Court. Yet Ms. Mosby, who is paid $242,000 of other peo­ple’s tax dol­lars an­nu­ally, told Sun re­porter Justin Fen­ton on Tues­day that she wasn’t aware the fed­eral gov­ern­ment had placed the lien. And Mr. Mosby cryp­ti­cally told re­porter Tim Pru­dente that the whole mat­ter was re­lated to tax con­se­quences of an early with­drawal from his re­tire­ment sav­ings plan, which he un­der­took to “sup­port un­planned ex­penses af­ter a se­ries of fam­ily tragedies.”

We un­der­stand that fam­i­lies fall on hard times, and some­times one spouse might not tell the other about their spend­ing is­sues (if that’s what hap­pened here). But as pub­lic fig­ures paid in pub­lic dol­lars — and with one of them ac­tively cam­paign­ing to lead the City Coun­cil and earn a salary of $119,000 paid by residents’ taxes — the Mos­bys owe us all a lit­tle more trans­parency about what’s go­ing on here.

Mr. Mosby ac­knowl­edged as much to the board in a se­ries of text mes­sages Wed­nes­day.

“As an elected of­fi­cial,” he wrote, “I un­der­stand that I have a greater re­spon­si­bil­ity to be a good cit­i­zen and stew­ard of the pub­lic’s trust. I un­der­stand that this type of per­sonal ex­am­i­na­tion comes with the ter­ri­tory. This mat­ter will be re­solved in the com­ing days.”

The In­ter­nal Rev­enue Ser­vice says the cou­ple failed to pay cer­tain taxes in 2014, 2015 and 2016, adding up to $45,000 and lead­ing to the lien. “We have made a de­mand for pay­ment of this li­a­bil­ity, but it re­mains un­paid,” the IRS court fil­ing claims, us­ing lan­guage stan­dard in such cases. “There­fore, there is a lien in fa­vor of the United States on all prop­erty and rights to prop­erty be­long­ing to the tax­payer.”

It’s at least the sec­ond time the Mos­bys have faced a tax lien: They were hit with a $5,000 state tax lien in 2013, which they paid off within two months. Mr. Mosby told the board that one was re­lated to “an un­taxed buy­out from a for­mer em­ployee.”

He took full re­spon­si­bil­ity for the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion, tex­ting that “the mat­ter is en­tirely on me and not my wife” and said his taxes are pre­pared by a pro­fes­sional ac­coun­tant ev­ery year and that he in­deed pays some por­tion of the bill due. He said there was a plan in place to re­solve this is­sue be­fore The Sun re­ported it, which he sus­pects “had some in­flu­ence on the tip and tim­ing to the me­dia.”

“The en­tire process has been ex­tremely cum­ber­some and ex­haust­ing,” he wrote. “I have per­son­ally worked with the IRS and also re­tained rep­re­sen­ta­tives to as­sist. That has re­sulted in mul­ti­ple ar­range­ments that for a num­ber of rea­sons have changed or been can­celled. One ex­am­ple, was the can­ce­la­tion of an agree­ment be­cause of a mis­cal­cu­la­tion by the IRS.”

You may re­mem­ber that for­mer Bal­ti­more Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Dar­ryl De Sousa was sen­tenced to 10 months in fed­eral prison last year for fail­ing to file three-years-worth of tax re­turns

(2013, 2014 and 2015), much less pay the $68,000 he owed. We’re not sug­gest­ing the Mos­bys did any­thing crim­i­nal. But not pay­ing their taxes in full or suc­cess­fully ar­rang­ing for a pay­ment plan be­fore the sce­nario reaches the lien stage cer­tainly raises ques­tions about their judg­ment and at­ten­tion to im­por­tant mat­ters. And we still don’t know the specifics.

Ms. Mosby al­ready faced heavy crit­i­cism this sum­mer fol­low­ing the pub­li­ca­tion of a Bal­ti­more Brew story that showed she ac­cepted tens of thou­sands of dol­lars worth of travel from out­side or­ga­ni­za­tions and in­cor­po­rated three businesses while in office that she failed to dis­close on her 2019 ethics form. The businesses, co­in­ci­den­tally, are travel com­pa­nies.

In an un­usual move, Ms. Mosby asked the Bal­ti­more In­spec­tor Gen­eral’s Office to in­ves­ti­gate her fi­nan­cial dis­clo­sures and travel, os­ten­si­bly to clear up the con­fu­sion and sus­pi­cion sur­round­ing them. City residents “have en­dured far too many cor­rup­tion scan­dals and need to know what is and is not il­le­gal,” Ms. Mosby wrote in a let­ter to In­spec­tor Gen­eral Is­abel Mercedes Cum­ming.

We heartily agree. And we re­spect­fully sug­gest that, should an­other cir­cum­stance arise in which the pro­pri­ety of the cou­ple’s ac­tions be called into ques­tion, that they seek to pro­vide as much de­tail and trans­parency as pos­si­ble from the get-go. An in­ves­ti­ga­tion is one way to set­tle the mat­ter, and we ex­pect the one Ms. Mosby asked for will do just that when it con­cludes, but be­ing open and forth­right is an­other.

The Bal­ti­more State’s At­tor­ney’s Office de­nied a pub­lic records re­quest by The Sun for de­tails that Ms. Mosby keeps on gov­ern­ment com­put­ers about her travel businesses, claim­ing un­con­vinc­ingly that the in­ves­ti­ga­tion pre­vents their re­lease. The office fur­ther tried to charge Fox45 $156,000 for a copy of Ms. Mosby’s work cal­en­dar, ac­cord­ing to the news sta­tion. With that kind of cash, the state’s at­tor­ney’s office could pay the Mosby’s tax tab three times over — with change.

This is not the way pub­lic bod­ies and of­fi­cials should re­spond to rea­son­able re­quests for in­for­ma­tion. If there’s noth­ing to hide, there’s no rea­son to be eva­sive.

That’s the take-away.

 ?? ALGERINA PERNA/BAL­TI­MORE SUN ?? The IRS placed a $45,000 lien on prop­erty owned by Bal­ti­more power cou­ple Nick Mosby and his wife, Marilyn Mosby.
ALGERINA PERNA/BAL­TI­MORE SUN The IRS placed a $45,000 lien on prop­erty owned by Bal­ti­more power cou­ple Nick Mosby and his wife, Marilyn Mosby.

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