Eleanor Holmes Norton said yesterday she had paid the District government nearly $60,000 in the last week in back income taxes, penalties and interest in an effort to settle the tax controversy that has disrupted her Democratic campaign for D.C. delegate.

Together with the $28,555 she paid the city this month when the controversy about her unfiled tax returns erupted, Norton has paid the city a total of $88,546 in outstanding taxes and penalties covering the years 1982 to 1989. Norton and her husband, Edward, failed to file their local income tax returns for the past seven years.

Local and federal tax summaries issued yesterday by the Norton campaign indicate that the taxes withheld from the couple's paychecks during the eight years fell far short of their actual tax obligation to the city. In the days leading up to the primary election, Eleanor Norton asserted that withholding taxes should more than cover the couple's tax liability and that the city might even owe them money.

But the Nortons were forced to pay the city $33,638 in back taxes for the past seven years, on top of the $32,499 that was already withheld from their paychecks during the same period.

Norton also had to pay the city $26,353 in penalties and interest on the taxes she and her husband failed to file.

Norton said she made the penalty payment on Monday, three days after she paid the back taxes. The earlier payment of $28,555, stemming from a 1982 tax problem the family had with the city, was made Sept. 8.

In a long telephone interview last night with The Washington Post, Norton expressed hope that her large payments to the city treasury will quell the furor that she described as "very painful" and "quite beyond embarrassment."

"I have done all I can," Norton said. "Now I am going to move forward in this campaign."

Norton said she does not believe the information released last night contradicts her statements during the primary campaign that money withheld by her employers should cover her tax liability and that the District government might owe her money.

She also said that she repeatedly reminded her audiences that her assessment was based on a preliminary review by her accountant, adding that she was "shocked" when she learned how much money she owed.

"I thought I was due a refund," said Norton, adding that at no time had she "deliberately misled the public."

Republican delegate nominee Harry M. Singleton, Norton's chief opponent in the Nov. 6 election, said last night that he planned to try to keep the tax issue alive. "This really calls into question her honesty and her integrity, and I think that's very important because that affects her credibility on Capitol Hill," Singleton said.

Norton said no campaign money was used to cover any of the debt, and indicated that although her family had much of the money available in cash, some holdings were liquidated to pay the "burdensome" bills.

A Georgetown University law professor and former Carter administration official, Norton also repeated her earlier statement that her husband handled all financial matters in the family and noted that some voters are likely to "be dismayed and perhaps disbelieving" that she would not know that the family taxes went unfiled for such a long period.

Donna Brazile, Norton's campaign manager, said that in the course of unraveling the family's tax history since the early 1980s, accountants discovered the blank tax forms Eleanor Norton had signed in the belief that Edward Norton would complete and file them. The Norton campaign would not release copies of those signed tax forms.

Norton also declined to release copies of her and her husband's federal tax returns, citing Edward Norton's opinion that such a disclosure would be an invasion of his privacy. Brazile did say that for the tax year 1989, Edward Norton, who also is a lawyer, posted significant losses in his business interests.

The Nortons reported $317,750 in combined gross income for tax year 1989. In that year, Eleanor Norton alone was paid $328,000 in salary and honoraria, according to her federal financial disclosure form.

Without copies of the federal and newly filed local returns, it is impossible to answer several questions, including what deductions the Nortons claimed to arrive at their estimates of taxable income. Norton said she owes no outstanding federal taxes and knew of no other financial difficulties likely to embroil her campaign.

Eleanor Norton also announced yesterday that she has separated her financial affairs from those of her husband and has retained a financial adviser to "see that no financial liability of any kind accumulates that can be charged to me."

She added that the tax controversy has put an enormous strain on her marriage of more than 25 years. Norton said she is "making every effort to hold our marriage together," adding there is "a lot of personal repair work that needs to be done in my marriage."

Norton said she believes that the District government will not take any legal action against her after her payments to the city.

Spokesmen for the Office of the D.C. Corporation Counsel, the city's legal arm, and the Department of Finance and Revenue, the leading tax collection agency, declined to comment on the Nortons' situation last night, as they have repeatedly in recent days.

The interview with Eleanor Norton and summaries released by her campaign shed no new light on what, if any, steps city officials took to force the family to pay its taxes from 1983 to 1989. Only one notice, from 1982 -- the year after which Edward Norton stopped filing local returns -- was found in the family files, Brazile said.

The willful failure to file an income tax return in the District is a misdemeanor punishable by up to $5,000 in fines and one year in jail. But D.C. officials say they rarely prosecute such cases unless there is clear evidence of intent to violate the law.

According to the tax summaries Norton released yesterday, she and her husband owed thousands of dollars in income tax in all but two of the seven years they did not file. They were due refunds totaling $2,821 in 1986 and 1987, according to the summaries.

In the other years, the taxes owed but not paid ranged from a low of $2,278 in 1984 to $18,384 last year, according to the summaries. The penalty and interest payments were greatest in 1982 -- $17,800 -- and second-highest last year, at $9,927.

The Norton tax controversy erupted four days before the Sept. 11 Democratic primary, when someone anonymously sent area news organizations a copy of a D.C. document indicating that the Nortons owed the city more than $25,000 in back taxes, penalties and interest from tax year 1982.

Norton immediately announced that she would pay the amount, but the crisis mounted the next day when she acknowledged that she and her husband had failed to file D.C. tax returns for seven consecutive years, starting in 1983.

Norton attributed the lapse to her husband's "procrastination," and said she was unaware of the failure to file because her husband historically had handled the family's taxes and finances.

Norton, who public opinion polls showed had a comfortable lead just before the tax disclosures, was badly damaged politically by the affair, especially in predominantly white Ward 3, west of Rock Creek Park, and she came under sharp attack from each of her primary rivals.

Norton prevailed in the primary, receiving 40 percent of the vote, compared with 33 percent for her closest rival, D.C. Council member Betty Ann Kane (D-At Large). The vote was much closer than had been expected, and it revealed that the city had split very much along racial lines, with a large majority of Norton's support coming from the black community.

Year..................................1982

Gross Income......................$124,136

Adj. Gross Income.................$109,045

Taxable Income.....................$88,060

Tax Liability.................Undetermined

Taxes Withheld.....................$5, 383

Back Taxes,Now Paid...............$10,755

Penalties and Interest Paid .......$17,800

Year..................................1983

Gross Income......................$132,370

Adj. Gross Income.................$116,192

Taxable Income.....................$91,327

Tax Liability.......................$8,858

Taxes Withheld......................$5,474

Back Taxes,Now Paid.................$3,384

Penalties and Interest Paid ........$5,076

Year..................................1984

Gross Income......................$144,116

Adj. Gross Income.................$124,116

Taxable Income.....................$81,800

Tax Liability.......................$7,810

Taxes Withheld......................$5,532

Back Taxes,Now Paid.................$2,278

Penalties and Interest Paid ........$3,075

Year..................................1985

Gross Income......................$175,216

Adj. Gross Income.................$145,037

Taxable Income.....................$95,434

Tax Liability.......................$9,803

Taxes Withheld......................$6,681

Back Taxes,Now Paid.................$3,122

Penalties and Interest Paid ........$3,746

Year..................................1986

Gross Income......................$129,765

Adj. Gross Income..................$95,765

Taxable Income.....................$51,084

Tax Liability.......................$4,719

Taxes Withheld......................$7,251

Back Taxes,Now Paid................$2,532*

Penalties and Interest Paid ............$0

Year..................................1987

Gross Income......................$137,273

Adj. Gross Income.................$107,273

Taxable Income.....................$79,395

Tax Liability.......................$7,340

Taxes Withheld......................$7,629

Back Taxes,Now Paid..................$289*

Penalties and Interest Paid ............$0

Year..................................1988

Gross Income......................$205,068

Adj. Gross Income.................$175,068

Taxable Income....................$144,346

Tax Liability......................$13,213

Taxes Withheld......................$6,743

Back Taxes,Now Paid.................$6,470

Penalties and Interest Paid ........$4,529

Year..................................1989

Gross Income......................$317,750

Adj. Gross Income.................$287,750

Taxable Income....................$252,346

Tax Liability......................$23,473

Taxes Withheld.....................$5,089

Back Taxes,Now Paid................$18,384

Penalties and Interest Paid ........$9,927

D.C. government assessed $10,755 for 1982; the amount is in dispute.

*Eligible for refund in these two years.

Penalties and interest assessed for failure to file and pay penalty, and for underestimation of tax.

Credit for amount withheld for Massachusetts taxes.

SOURCE: Norton Campaign