AccuPay owners selling their home, contents at auction

The owners of AccuPay, a Bel Air payroll services firm accused of failing to pay state and federal income tax withholdings for as many as 600 clients last year, are planning to sell their Bel Air home and its contents at auction next month.

The 2,360-square-foot home, at 507 Weatherby Road in Bel Air, is being auctioned by Steve Dance Auctions on Feb. 1.

The real estate auction will begin at 10:30 a.m. Immediately following the real estate auction, personal property inside the home will be auctioned off separately.

According to Steve Dance Auctions, the estate sale is "not an absolute auction." After the highest bid has been given, the homeowners will have the option of accepting or rejecting the offer.

According to state tax records, the home is owned by Kevin Carden and was acquired in 1999 for $206,305 from the builder that developed the Greenridge II community where the home is. The home and one-third acre lot are assessed by the state at $340,000 for real estate tax purposes.

Kevin Carden and his wife, Beverly Carden, are listed as principals of AccuPay in various court filings made in connection with civil suits against AccuPay and in the payroll firm's Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing last March 12. In Chapter 7, claims of creditors are stayed while the bankruptcy court supervises the liquidation of a company's assets to satisfy its debts.

In various filings in the Chapter 7 case in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland, there is no indication the auction of the Weatherby Road home and contents is directly connected to the AccuPay bankruptcy.

The home is described as a "lovely two story brick front home" with three bedrooms and a two and a half bath, according to the auction website

The "modern" eat-in kitchen was remodeled one year ago and is equipped with stainless steel appliances, granite counters and wall ovens, according to the auction website. A ground pool, hot tub and treks deck are also on the property.

The master bedroom includes a master bath "with a double vanity, oval tub and shower stall."

The terms of sale for the home requires the buyer to bring $25,000 cash or a certified check for that amount at the time of purchase.

The personal property up for auction includes a demilune table, oak and mahogany chest of drawers, white bedroom set, Olhausen modern bar sized pool table, a cherry china closet, Sunjoy smoker grill and Raleigh bike.

Auctioneer Steve Dance said he was unaware of any legal troubles, which may have caused the owners of the home to place it in auction. He said more people are leaning toward auctions to sell their properties.

"More the last 10 to 15 years people have been choosing the auction method rather than the traditional real estate method [to sell their property]," Dance said Thursday. "It's not a long, drawn out process. Everyone is standing there at a public auction, so there is the opportunity to raise the other person's bid versus private contract sales."

Dance said there is no starting bid for the property.

Legal controversies

Kevin and Beverly Carden and AccuPay are defendants in at least five active Harford County Circuit Court civil suits dating to 2012 that accuse the defendants of failing to pay state and federal tax withholdings on behalf of the plaintiffs, companies who were AccuPay clients.

In addition, the Bel Air Police Department began investigating AccuPay early last March, seizing files from the company's offices in the 200 block of Churchville Road.

Detective Sgt. Jim Lockard, of the Bel Air Police Department, said the Internal Revenue Services' Criminal Investigations department has taken control of the investigation. The IRS could not be reached Thursday afternoon.

The company has not operated since last winter.

In AccuPay's Chapter 7 case, the trustee appointed to conserve the company's assets filed a complaint in July naming Kevin and Beverly Carden as defendants.

According to the complaint, U.S. Trustee Brian A. Goldman seeks to bar any AccuPay principals and their relatives from transferring any assets valued at in excess of $10,000 "because these assets are likely assets of the bankruptcy estate or proceeds thereof..." The complaint also asks the court to compel the defendants to turn over any such assets that may have been previously transferred.

The complaint also lists alleged transfers of AccuPay assets/property to Kevin and Beverly Carden.

Goldman said he doesn't speak to the media about pending cases.

On Dec. 6, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert A. Gordon signed an order granting another motion filed by Goldman for a "compromise of controversy" between the trustee and Kieran Carden, which places a $20,000 lien on the Churchville Road property that housed AccuPay's offices. According to tax records, Kieran Carden, whose relationship to Kevin and Beverly Carden is not stated in the order, is the owner of the Churchville Road property.

Legislative initiatives

AccuPay's problems have spilled into the political area, both in the halls of the U.S. Congress and the Maryland General Assembly.

Maryland U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski has called upon the Internal Revenue Service to waive penalties that AccuPay's clients may owe because their withholding taxes were not forwarded to the IRS by the company. Mikulski said last April she would introduce legislation that requires payroll services companies to register with the IRS and be bonded.

With the opening of the 2014 General Assembly session in Annapolis Wednesday, State Sen. Barry Glassman, who represents Northern Harford, has said he will be dedicating a portion of his time to giving additional protections to local businesses that use payroll service companies to pay state and federal income tax withholdings.

During the last days of the 2013 legislative session, Glassman pushed through Senate Bill 1068, establishing a nine-member commission to study and determine if Maryland should regulate private payroll service companies.

The Commission to Study the Regulation of Payroll Services is studying Maryland's payroll services industry and its role in the tax payment system. The commission is authorized through June 30.

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