TAMPA — When Mike Suarez returned to city politics in January, announcing a run for the citywide District 2 seat, he talked about his experience and results on City Council from 2011 to 2019 at a candidate forum at the Cuban Club.
During that same period, the Internal Revenue Service says he failed to pay some of the federal taxes he owed. In June 2021, the IRS placed a $63,571 lien on his commercial insurance business. The lien also names his wife, Laura Ankenbruck.
Suarez said Tuesday he sent a check last week to the federal government to pay off the full amount. He said he and his wife had already entered into a payment plan with the IRS and Suarez described the 2021 lien as a placeholder formalizing that arrangement to pay off the debt.
How will the revelations about Suarez’s back taxes affect his standing?
“I’m embarrassed that we weren’t able to get it paid earlier, but the one thing voters will know is that I paid my taxes. That lien will be removed,” Suarez said.
Guido Maniscalco, who must leave his District 6 seat representing West Tampa as well as parts of South Tampa and Seminole Heights because of term limits, is also in the race, as is community activist Robin Lockett and Michael Derewenko. The election is March 7.
Suarez said he received bad tax advice from an individual he didn’t want to name, saying he took responsibility for his own actions. The advice involved things like what can be deducted for tax purposes from his commercial insurance business.
“It’s bad enough to be in the newspaper over this. I don’t need to draw a larger circle (by identifying the person who gave him the advice),” Suarez said.
Suarez’s tax-delinquent years started shortly after he joined City Council in 2011 and extended through his two terms on council, ending in 2019.
Another current council member, chairperson Joseph Citro, recently had his own financial troubles. Citro’s council salary has been garnished to pay off credit card debt. Citro is currently running for reelection in the citywide District 1 race.