Melissa Bondi is now facing scrutiny from the "mainstream" press about her tax problem, or should we say problems. Her response is not encouraging.
The worst thing a candidate for public office can do when faced with a question about their personal behavior is to lie about it. Yet, that appears to be the path Bondi has chosen, and it will undoubtedly exacerbate the problems for her campaign.
Here's the two tax problems Bondi has:
1. A nearly $20,000 IRS lien for failure to pay taxes on income earned a few years ago; and
2. The apparent failure to pay personal property taxes on a car she garaged in Arlington for a couple of years.
As an aside, commenters on various blogs and news sites have raised other questions, but they seem beside the point. She was late on some car tax payments a few years ago--ok, but she paid them, and a lot of people are late at some point in paying bills. Another candidate, Kim Klingler, had the same problem, but really it shouldn't be disqualifying. Also, some commenters have complained that Bondi is now not an Arlington taxpayer at all, suggesting that should disqualify her for office. We don't see that as very pertinent--an Arlington resident who rents her abode and has no car can still be an excellent County Board member.
However, not paying taxes, and then evading the truth about it, is serious.
As for the IRS lien, Bondi's story is that until the tax judgment appeared on the Arlington Yupette blog a few days ago, she didn't know about it. That is pretty hard to believe. The IRS is far from perfect, but they don't file a tax lien without first making mulitple efforts to notify you of the tax delinquency and offering you an opportunity to negotiate the delinquency, all the while threatening the dire consequences that will befall you if you fail to act. Also, when you get hit with a tax lien--which is public--all kinds of lawyers and other types come out of the woodwork offering to "help" you with the IRS. Since the lien judgment has Bondi's correct address, it's hard to see how she somehow missed all that correspondence--some of which, by law, is required to be sent by certified mail.
Most telling is that in today's Washington Post article on the issue, Bondi "would not say" whether she received notices or warning letters. So, in other words, maybe she didn't know about the lien (still hard to believe), but she certainly knew about the delinquency. It would be one thing if she was in correspondence with the IRS disputing the delinquency and the IRS upped the ante by filing a lien--they will do that; but that doesn't appear to be her story.
The car tax issue is also problemmatic. Apparently, sometime in 2006 Bondi gave up her own car, but used a car that belonged to her father, who lives out of state. The fact that a car is registered out of state, however, does not exempt it from personal property tax. If the car is garaged in Arlington, it is subject to the tax. Bondi hasn't yet said anything to clear up this issue. While the amount of money is probably quite small, we do think it says something about someone who wants to serve on Arlington's Board. Paired with the other tax issue, it says volumes.
Now, people make mistakes, and if we only elected perfect people to public office, we wouldn't have any public officers. We're more troubled at this point, however, with how Bondi is handling her mistakes.
With four other committed Democrats running for the Board nomination, we think Arlington Democrats have better choices.
[The Curmudgeon is supporting Terron Sims. But we'd change horses in a nanosecond if he had Bondi's type of problems.]