Del. Nick Mosby said he would resolve within “coming days” a $45,000 federal tax lien filed in February when it was first made public Oct. 13.
Ten days later — and with Election Day drawing near — the Democratic nominee for Baltimore City Council president hasn’t said whether he’s paid the sum, entered into a payment plan or answered other questions about the years-old debt.
The Baltimore Sun first reported Oct. 13 that Mosby owes the Internal Revenue Service for unpaid income taxes from 2014 to 2016, according to court records. Earlier this year, the IRS placed a lien on all his property, including the home he shares with his wife, Marilyn Mosby, the Baltimore state’s attorney.
Nick Mosby has said the debt stems from his early withdrawal from retirement savings for “family tragedies.” Such a withdrawal typically brings a 10% penalty, in addition to taxes on the money he pulled out.
Mosby said last week that he’s been negotiating his debts for years with IRS agents and expected to have the matter resolved in the coming days.
The 42-year-old has declined repeatedly to answer questions from The Baltimore Sun about his taxes or his declaration that the matter would be cleared up quickly.
Court records show Mosby has had money trouble before. In 2013, a $5,000 state tax lien was placed on the Mosby property. The records list the lien as paid off within two months. Last year, Nick Mosby was sued for about $3,600 by Capital One Bank, but the lawsuit was dismissed six months later.
His Republican challenger for City Council president aims to make Mosby’s silence an issue in the Nov. 3 election.
“The silence is questionable,” said Jovani Patterson, the Republican nominee. “It shows he doesn’t need to address it. He doesn’t need to own up for it. There’s no accountability.”
Nick Mosby earns $50,000 as a state delegate and would make $119,000 if he won the election. He was first elected to serve on the City Council in 2011. Marilyn Mosby made $238,772 this year as Baltimore’s top prosecutor.
Personal tax records are protected by privacy laws. But some information may be gleaned from the lien notice filed in Baltimore Circuit Court.
A $45,000 lien is a fairly routine case for tax attorneys, said David Polashuk, of the Owings Mills law firm Levy, Mann, Caplan, Hermann & Polashuk LLP.
“I deal with these kinds of things every day,” Polashuk said.
The IRS filed federal tax liens against nearly 544,000 people in fiscal year 2019, the agency’s data shows. Agents filed liens against more than 410,000 people in the fiscal year before that. Only in extremely rare cases will the IRS actually attempt to seize a house — less than 1% of cases in each of these years.
Instead, a lien attaches to a home and acts as security to ensure its owners pay their debt. The owners can’t sell their house with a clean title without paying the money. Debts of $25,000 or more may result in such a lien. Bigger debts of $250,000 or more can cause the IRS to assign a revenue officer to collect the money.
“What a lien does for the IRS is it protects their interest,” Polashuk said. “They can’t personally follow around and keep their eye on every taxpayer out there that owes the government money."
The IRS usually gives ample warning before filing such lien, including letters by certified mail.
“The government is pretty good at allowing you to enter into payment arrangements to pay these debts off,” Polashuk said.
Mosby’s biggest debt year — nearly $23,000 — came in 2014, but the debt was assessed against him in 2017, according to the notice. A debt of about $19,000 was incurred in 2015 and assessed the following year. And a debt of about $3,000 was incurred in 2016 and assessed in 2019, according to the notice.
Any tax debt can balloon as it accrues penalties and late fees, Polashuk said.
“It wouldn’t shock me if a fair amount of this liability is penalties,” he said.
Still, the court notice gives no clues about whether Mosby is enrolled in a payment plan and paying.
Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton contributed to this article.