The Internal Revenue Service has filed two tax liens on City Councilman Ronald Green for more than $120,000 in alleged federal tax debt and fees, according to public documents unearthed by one of his opponents in the city controller’s race.
Green acknowledged the liens Thursday, but said they were part of an “honest dispute” over income that he mistakenly overlooked several years ago.
“We have been working together over the last couple months to get this resolved,” he said. “I’m aggressively advocating for myself.”
The IRS liens claim Green owes $38,842.62 from 2002, $35,046.07 from 2003, $39,942.65 from 2004 and $6,211.77 from 2006, according to the documents filed with the Harris County Clerk’s office.
Green, who has his own law practice, said the IRS dispute began when it discovered about $30,000 another attorney reported as having been paid to him in 2002 that he did not report on his return because of an oversight.
“As a small businessman, you do your taxes by collecting many separate 1099s, and unfortunately, this one didn’t get included,” he said. Much of the remaining IRS claims and his dispute with the agency stem from fees and interest it says he owes, Green said.
Texas Watchdog has the documents in question. Green’s explanation seems reasonable to me, though not having been in a similar position myself, I can’t fully judge it. But it is the sort of thing that sounds bad, especially when one is running for a job whose purpose is keeping track of finances, and however reasonable the explanation sounds, the old maxim about “if you’re explaining, you’re losing” comes to mind. The risk for Green is that Pam Holm, whose campaign sent out the press release with copies of those documents that is the basis for these stories, has the money to drop a bunch of mail attacking him for it if she chooses to do so. So does MJ Khan, for that matter. I’m not sure how Green responds if that happens. Green may be “leading” in that Chronicle poll, and that may have influenced the timing of Holm’s charge against him as he says (though really, this is the time that such attacks always come out, precisely because there’s not much time to adequately respond to them), but there’s a ton of undecided voters, and this may well have an effect on them. If he’s got a bullet to fire back, now would be the time to do it.