Does the IRS View Marion Barry as a “Special Circumstance”?

Former D.C. mayor, Marion Barry, is in the news today because of a lien that the IRS filed against him in connection with a measly $3,200 in unpaid 2010 taxes.

Remember back in February of this year when the IRS announced it was going to provide taxpayers with special tax relief during these trying financial times? The IRS dubbed it the “Fresh Start” initiative. Remember when I blogged in June about the uncertainties of the program and how the IRS still had not clarified some major points? Remember what I said about the new lien filing procedures; how the lien filing threshold was reduced from $10,000 to $5,000 in most cases? According to the IRS website:

The Fresh Start changes increase the IRS lien filing threshold from $5,000 to $10,000. Liens may still be filed on amounts less than $10,000 when circumstances warrant. (emphasis added)


So, why did the IRS file a lien if the balance is under $5,000? Well, it appears that Barry’s 2010 liability is only the tip of the iceberg. He still owes for prior years, for which he is on an installment agreement in good standing, according to Barry’s official statement. It appears that the IRS will be looking at the overall balance in determining whether to file a lien, even under Fresh Start. At least that’s one possible explanation. The other possibility is that the IRS would have filed a lien on Barry even if $3,200 were all he owed . . . because circumstances warrant it. Let’s face it, he’s a public figure sitting on a Finance Committee in D.C, in charge of public funds, and he has a colorful history of corruption and tax delinquencies. If that isn’t a special circumstance, then I don’t know what is.

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