Marion Barry Owes IRS More Than $277,000, Authorities Say

Prosecutors want to send Marion Barry back to prison. They say he violated probation by failing to file 2007 tax returns on time.
Prosecutors want to send Marion Barry back to prison. They say he violated probation by failing to file 2007 tax returns on time. (By Jacquelyn Martin -- Associated Press)
  Enlarge Photo    
By Del Quentin Wilber and Hamil R. Harris
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, March 27, 2009

D.C. Council member Marion Barry owes the federal government more than $277,000 in back taxes, interest and penalties and has failed in six recent months to make scheduled payments on taxes owed the D.C. government, according to federal authorities.

Federal authorities have said that Barry (D-Ward 8) failed to pay the bulk of his taxes on more than $500,000 earned from 1999 through 2004. But they had not disclosed the amount until a court filing yesterday.

Barry, a former four-term mayor and a D.C. elected official for much of the past four decades, also owes the D.C. government back taxes, but prosecutors did not specify the amount.

What Barry owes the federal government is equal to more than half his income in that six-year period, is double his salary as a council member and is more than the tax liabilities that have plagued some nominees and would-be nominees of the Obama administration.

Former senator Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.), for example, withdrew as the nominee for secretary of health and human services after it was revealed that he had $146,000 in unpaid taxes and penalties.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson has scheduled a hearing for April 2 on whether to revoke Barry's probation for tax offenses because he did not file his federal or D.C. returns for 2007 in a timely manner.

Barry condemned prosecutors and the Internal Revenue Service for releasing his private tax information, saying the disclosure violated the law. "The approach that they are using goes against prosecutorial conduct," he said in a statement.

"The U.S. Attorney is, in legal terms, piling on," he added.

Barry, 72, who is recuperating at home after a kidney transplant, is on three years' probation for tax violations. Barry has said his illnesses distracted him from filing his taxes on time for 2007. He filed his federal return Feb. 17, a week after federal prosecutors moved to have his probation revoked.

According to an affidavit filed yesterday by an IRS special agent, Barry owes $277,688.05 to the U.S. Treasury in back taxes, interest and penalties. The IRS agent did not break down the total any further. But the agent said Barry's 2007 return indicates that he owes the federal government $6,512 in taxes for that year. The IRS is taking $1,350 every two weeks from Barry's paycheck, the agent wrote.

Barry did not make a payment on his back taxes to the District from July until shortly after prosecutors sought to revoke his probation last month, according to the court filing.

Barry filed his D.C. tax return for 2007 on Feb. 13 and owes unspecified District taxes for that year, Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Zeno wrote in the filing. Barry has "continually flouted the standards applicable to all persons who reside in the District of Columbia, who work for a living, and who pay a portion of their income to support his salary," Zeno wrote.

Barry was elected to the District school board in 1972 and to the D.C. Council two years later. He was elected mayor in 1978 and won reelection twice before his arrest on drug charges in 1990. After his release from prison, Barry was elected to the D.C. Council in 1992. He served another term as mayor after a 1994 election win. After leaving the mayor's office, he was a consultant for an investment banking firm before his successful run for D.C. Council in 2004.

Staff researcher Robert E. Thomason contributed to this report.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company