John Fonfara

John Fonfara (June 26, 2014)

HARTFORD — State Sen. John Fonfara, D-Hartford, co-chairman of the legislature's tax writing finance committee, owes thousands of dollars in federal taxes, according to a lien on file at city hall.

The Internal Revenue Service recorded the lien for $50,406.93 in unpaid income taxes in October 2011. It is against Fonfara's home at 99 Montowese St.

At the time, Fonfara, whose district includes part of Wethersfield, owed the IRS $8,642.85 from 2008 and $41,764.08 from 2009, according to the lien.

Fonfara said this week that he has a payment plan and has reduced the debt to about $4,000. He said that he expects to pay that off in "in the next several months."

"I entered into an agreement with the IRS to pay it off in installments," he said. "I've been paying ever since."

Fonfara said the debt stems from his departure in 2010 from Face Value, a billboard company that he owned.

"I had a business situation," Fonfara said. "I was left with a pretty sizeable and unexpected obligation."

Fonfara declined to be more specific. He said he wanted to pay the debt immediately, but lacked the resources.

"It wasn't anticipated but once it was there, I didn't run away from it," Fonfara said. "I contacted the IRS, and I made arrangements. I've been paying ever since. I met my obligation."

Fonfara said that he is no longer associated with Face Value. He did not know if the company still exists.

Face Value, whose last address was in Farmington, does not appear to have an active phone number and its former website is shut down. A message left with a woman listed on state records as the company's agent was not returned.

Fonfara said that he now works as a steel broker. He did not say whether he works for a company or is self-employed.

IRS spokesman Mark Hanson declined comment on Fonfara's case Wednesday.

"The IRS can't discuss specific taxpayers' relations with the agency due to federal privacy laws," Hanson said.

The IRS releases liens within 30 days of settlement of a tax debt, he said.

As co-chairman of the legislature's Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee, Fonfara plays a leading role in setting state tax and finance policies. Asked if he had any concerns about Fonfara's tax delinquency given his position on the committee, Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said:

"John is a dedicated caucus member and an excellent committee chairman. It is my understanding that he is working to fulfill his financial obligations and has substantially paid the outstanding balance that resulted in the lien."

Senate Democrats Communications Director Adam Joseph declined further comment when asked whether Fonfara had told Looney and outgoing Senate President Pro Tempore Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, about the delinquency.