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St. Petersburg City Council candidate Newton has history of tax disputes with IRS



District 7 City Council candidate Will Newton owed $32,139.93 in federal back taxes from 2010 until he paid them off in full in 2012, according to Internal Revenue Service documents.

The IRS filed two separate notices of federal tax liens against Newton in 2010. In September, a lien was filed  for $13, 515.30 in unpaid taxes from 2004 to 2006.  In December, the federal tax agency filed another lien for $18,624.63 for the tax years 2007 through 2009.

Both liens were for "small business/self-employed."  Newton was a St. Petersbug firefigher for 23 years, which wouldn't appear to fit. Neither would his activities in the firefighers union during that period.

Newton didn't respond to questions about the nature of the business or businesses in question. His campaign manager Steve Lapinski said the liens had nothing to do with Newton's licenses as a mortgage broker or insurance agent.

But what business did they pertain to?

"You're asking me a question I don't have an answer to," Lapinski said. 

Lapinski later clarified his remarks with a statement: "The liens had nothing to do with a business."

When asked by the Tampa Bay Times to explain the liens, which were paid in full in March 2012, Newton issued a brief statement via text late Wednesday:

"There was a disagreement about a tax issue years ago. Once resolved, it was paid in full. This stand in stark contrast to my opponent taking donor money under false pretenses, diverting it for her own personal use, lying to voters on her campaign finance reports for over five months and attempting a cover-up," Newton wrote.

Lisa Wheeler-Brown's campaign has acknowledged that she took $500 in campaign funds to pay for an emergency dental procedure. She listed the expense as an office rental before amending her reports last month. Her campaign has blamed her inexperience as a candidate and bad advice from a former campaign aide for her actions.

On Friday, Wheeler-Brown's campaign manager told the Times, that her candidate would continue to focus on the issues that voters care about: jobs, education and public safety.

As for Newton's tax troubles with the IRS?

"Will will have to justify that with voters," said Meagan Salisbury.

Newton and Wheeler-Brown are vying to replace term-limited council member Wengay Newton, the older brother of Will Newton. District 7 covers Midtown, Childs Park and other southern neighborhoods.

Times researcher Caroyln Edds contributed to this report. 

[Last modified: Thursday, October 8, 2015 6:52pm]


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