The District government sent D.C. delegate candidate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) and her husband six notices of delinquency during the seven-year period in which they failed to file their local income tax returns, according to sources familiar with the couple's tax case.
Neither Norton nor Linda Grant, a spokeswoman for the city's chief tax collection agency, would comment yesterday on the number of delinquency notices that were mailed to the Nortons between 1983 and 1989, the years in which the couple did not file their D.C. income taxes.
However, Grant said it was possible that the Department of Finance and Revenue sent delinquent taxpayers such as the Nortons a series of notices in each or most of the years in which they did not file without taking any immediate and harsher enforcement action against them.
"In the realm of possibility, anything is possible," Grant said.
It was not immediately clear whether the six notices sent to the Nortons were "survey notices," which typically are the first communication the city undertakes with recalcitrant taxpayers to prod them into paying their annual bills.
One source familiar with key aspects of the Norton tax case described the six notices yesterday as letters insisting on prompt payment by the couple. Another source said only that several "notices" of delinquency were mailed to the Nortons.
"I will be speaking to The Post tomorrow on that issue and I will be glad to comment at that time," said Norton, who is scheduled to meet today with Post editors and reporters.
Norton has said that her husband handled all finances in the family and that she would set aside any related mail for him without opening it.
In the days immediately following the disclosure about her taxes, Norton paid the city $28,555 to cover part of her family's outstanding tax liability. She later made additional payments of nearly $60,000, for a total of $88,546 in back taxes, penalties and interest.
At the time Norton announced her final round of payments to the city, Donna Brazile, Norton's campaign manager, said a search of family and city tax records had turned up only one warning notice from the District government.
That notice dated from 1982, the year after which the Nortons stopped filing local returns.
Since the tax controversy erupted, Grant and other officials in the Finance and Revenue Department have refused to discuss the Norton case, saying confidentiality rules prohibit them from publicizing details of individual cases.
Because Norton too has declined to release all records pertaining to her family's tax history, it has been impossible to learn what, if any, steps city officials took to force the Nortons to pay their taxes.
Earlier yesterday, Norton said she has discussed her taxes "ad nauseam" in the six weeks since the disclosure that she had failed to file. The anonymous disclosure was made to local news media by facsimile machine four days before the former Carter administration official captured her party's nomination for the delegate's post.
Norton also complained about the coverage of the tax case by The Washington Post, which has published a series of editorials demanding that she answer lingering questions about her personal tax history.
"I think the tax issue has so dominated the general election period that now when I go into the wards I meet anger, I meet anger that The Washington Post has written so many editorials, anger at stories," Norton said during an appearance on the Diane Rehm talk show on radio station WAMU-FM.
"People say this is not fair to us, and it's interesting that one is beginning to get that reaction now," Norton added. "This was an issue that was very legitimate to raise. It should not have been raised in an anonymous fax late in the campaign.
"It needed to be discussed . . . . I have discussed it ad nauseam," Norton said.
Norton formally asked the Finance and Revenue Department last week for copies of any official records stemming from her failure to file taxes, in part, an aide said at the time, to obtain copies of any official notices warning her family of its tax delinquency.
Norton faces Republican nominee Harry M. Singleton, a former Reagan administration official, and three other candidates for the delegate's post, which will pay $120,700 starting next year.
Singleton has sought to focus voter attention on the issue of Norton's unfiled taxes, last week releasing copies of his local and federal income tax returns for the last five years.
Staff writer Steve Twomey contributed to this report.