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Tax Problems Dog Arlington Board Candidate

Bondi owes more than $19,000 to IRS, documents show.

A Democratic candidate for the Arlington County Board owes more than $19,000 in back federal taxes and also had trouble paying local taxes in 2004 and 2005, according to documents obtained by Patch.

Melissa Bondi, 40, owes the IRS about $1,821 for 2005 and another $17,430 for 2006 – in all, about $19,252, according to a federal tax lien on file with the Arlington County Clerk of the Circuit Court's Office.

Bondi believes the lien is the result of a misunderstanding or error.

Once the matter is settled, the IRS will file a release with the local clerk's office.

An IRS spokesman said he could not comment on specific taxpayer information due to federal disclosure laws.

The tax lien was signed March 29, 2011; it was recorded in the local clerk's office on April 5, 2011.

Bondi is a civic activist, the project coordinator for the Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington and a member of the Arlington Economic Development Commission.

She sent the following statement to Patch via email Wednesday afternoon: "I was shocked and thoroughly concerned to learn via blog posts about a tax lien apparently filed against me several months ago for the tax years 2005 and 2006. I had no knowledge of this lien, and I believe this is either a misunderstanding between the IRS and me or an error on the part of the IRS. As soon as I learned about this issue, I began to take immediate action. I spent Monday, both on the phone and in person with IRS personnel, trying to find out as much as possible about this issue, and have formally requested copies of tax records IRS has for me and any correspondence the IRS may have sent. I am committed to learning exactly what led to this situation and am working diligently to ensure I am fully in good standing with the IRS."

Bondi, too, was twice late on her county taxes, according to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by a local civic activist.

Bondi paid her car taxes 14 days late in 2004, and paid them 53 days late in 2005 following a threat of seizure by the Treasurer's Office. The actual amount in those cases was not immediately available Wednesday.

"She paid basically after we threatened to seize her car," County Treasurer Frank O'Leary said. "That is not responsible conduct."

The county has no record of Bondi owning a car since February 2006, when it was reported sold, O'Leary said. But Bondi has said multiple times that she only gave up her car in 2008.

"Where's the other car? We have no record of another car," said O'Leary, who is supporting Terron Sims for the vacant seat on the county board. "She was delinquent, then all of a sudden she drops out of our world. She hasn't paid taxes to this county in more than five years."

O'Leary added: "She is a scofflaw and tax evader. If I sound a little angry about it, I am. She simply ignored us."

Local activist David North filed a Freedom of Information Act request with O'Leary's office inquiring about tax delinquency for all five Democratic candidates running in the special election for the Arlington County Board. O'Leary provided information from 2004 to the present.

Candidates Peter Fallon, Libby Garvey and Sims all made their payments in a timely matter, according to that document.

Candidate Kim Klingler was six days late in 2006 and one day late in 2007.

"She did good," O'Leary said. "She knew she made a mistake and corrected it quickly."

The Arlington County Democratic Committee will hold its caucus on Jan. 19 and 21. It is open to all registered voters in the county.

David H Taylor January 11, 2012 at 11:29 PM
Good candidate for Obama's cabinet.
C.D. January 12, 2012 at 02:18 PM
Who promoted her, besides Zimmerman? ArlNow, Patch, AIM, Sun Gazette. No secret that the B-R Corridor is an advertising gold mine and the media are all for 'Clarendoning' every residential neighborhood in Arlington.
momhon January 12, 2012 at 02:37 PM
I'd prefer a West Point graduate to a college drop-out anyway, unpaid taxes or not.
Erik Gutshall January 12, 2012 at 03:01 PM
It's not surprising that Francis O'Leary would be out front slinging the mud and abusing his office. His quote would have you believe he personally pursued Bondi only to be ignored. A much more likely explanation is this was a routine missed payment, a month went by and a notice went out automatically with the obligatory "we will seize your car" and then Melissa realized she had forgotten to pay and paid. 53 days is less than 2 months and one monthly billing cycle. Late penalties, which Melissa paid, are established to recoup the additional cost. Scofflaw? Seriously, Frank?
momhon January 12, 2012 at 03:11 PM
I just don't find it credible that someone is unaware of a tax lien filed by the IRS almost ten months ago. What's the excuse there? The ohmygoshIhadnoidea! bit is hard to swallow.
Arlington Voter January 12, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Yes, Bondi is a scofflaw. She failed to pay personal property tax on a car that she garaged in Arlington for more than two years. Bondi also failed to pay the business license tax for her consulting business, and failed to pay business personal property tax. If business licensing applies to everyone else, why has Bondi decided to skip those Arlington regulations. Last, Gutshall is part of the Lyon Park cabal that includes Bondi. Secret agendas, childish plotting, but in the end really just driving away membership.
julie January 12, 2012 at 04:26 PM
How about a candidate for County Board who's an Ivy League graduate with a Ph.D.? Lives in a basement apartment in a middle class neighborhood. Worked her way through college and graduate school. Works in a responsible position. Rides her bicycle and Metrobus / Metrorail everywhere. Constantly talks about what she wants to do for us, rather than what she's done for Zimmy. Naw, can't vote for her. She's not a Trendycrat.
Erik Gutshall January 12, 2012 at 06:58 PM
I find it funny that I am accused of having a "secret agenda" by someone who hides behind anonymity.
Orange Liner January 12, 2012 at 08:04 PM
I think the not-so-secret agenda is being led by the Treasurer's office on behalf of a candidate who he has endorsed and for whom his deputy is the campaign treasurer. But be that as it may, O'Leary never went after Bondi for the alleged car that she allegedly garaged for two years. Did he give her a pass because she was a Democrat? Or did he just now, in the midst of a campaign, find that information interesting? And why is it O'Leary feels he can ignore Virginia law about personal disclosure of tax information, for political purposes no less. He did it to Bob James four years ago and now he is both releasing information on all candidates, and opining on it in the press as though he alone gets to try and convict people. Especially ironic, given that he has no current or past enforcement actions against any candidate, and has never listed any of them on an official delinquent list. Lots of people pay bills late after prompting. Haven't you? Secondly, this consulting allegation is pure b.s. If you think everyone in Arlington who gets a 1099 or is self-employed needs to register with the County, you are wrong. And what business property would one register? A personal computer not used primarily for business? Nope. Many many of us, consult in some fashion. Then you have the nerve to go after Eric Gutshall while you anonymously spread venom all over the internet. Real classy. But not unlike what might be expected of the hyper-partisan, unethical Treasurer's office.
momhon January 12, 2012 at 10:33 PM
Dr. Clement seems like a decent person and certainly is passionate about the green agenda, but perhaps a little too much. She has a bit of the zealot's fire, which could make it difficult to work things out with colleagues. It's nice to stick to your guns, but if everyone does that nothing gets done. She can talk all she wants to about what she wants to do, but that doesn't mean she'll be able to accomplish it. She also doesn't seem that user friendly. I'd hate to go see her about some issue with which she disagreed. I prefer Mr. Sims' background of proven ability to work with diverse factions and reach an affordable solution agreeable to all. That sounds to me like what Arlington needs. For the record, I've asked him about his positions on "green" issues, and he agrees green objectives are highly desirable; where he takes issue is with the Board's predeliction for agreeing to everything without considering the budgetary implications (see: Columbia Pike trolley, which he said we can't afford while others were still saying how fabulous it was). Some of us have been Democrats for decades, since it was deeply UNtrendy (during Carter, Reagan, etc.)
Change Agent January 13, 2012 at 03:19 AM
If the March 27th special election is between Audrey Clement and a known tax delinquent, Ms Clement might actually win.
CH January 13, 2012 at 02:33 PM
I have no dog in this hunt, but I find the Arlington Treasurer's comments outrageous. Providing the information in response to a FOIA request is one thing, making it a personal attack is politicizing the office he holds. I am not defending Bondi, she should have handled her business before she filed, if she knew about it. However, O'Leary goes too far when he makes comments calling her names. If the claim about him doing this to other candidates is true, it appears he is using his office for a personal political agenda. Not cool. No matter what my party affiliation I cannot condone this, and neither should the good citizens of Arlington.
GB January 13, 2012 at 03:58 PM
I've never commented on a blog before and I'm not a political activist, but I feel I have to comment. O'Leary's comments are unethical and inappropriate. I agree that using his office to further his personal political agenda is deplorable. Is there an ethics board in Arlington? If not, maybe there should be. When my husband and I moved to Arlington, I had no idea my car was subject to car taxes. I'd never heard of such a thing. I was probably late paying them. Is O'Leary going to publicly comment on MY tax bill? Let's not forget that car taxes are not the norm. I've lived all over the country and never paid car taxes anywhere else. The idea that you are required to pay taxes on a car that you don't own is in no way intuitive. It would never cross my mind to register the car. And I am no tax evader!
ArlingtonCountyTaxpayer January 13, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Will Erik Gutshall announce that he is the tax consultant who has been hired?
momhon January 13, 2012 at 08:10 PM
The reasoning about the failure to pay car taxes is logical unless the person in question is involved with county business; having lived in Arlington (N. and S.) for over 30 years, and having gotten a ticket when I first moved in with my NJ plates (it was OK in DC for 6 years, so I didn't know they'd be so on top of it here) because I didn't register it in-state within 30 days, I was made aware that many people try to retain their out-of-state plates as a tax dodge. I learned all PD's keep an eye on cars in their jurisdiction & if they continue to see the same car without of state plates it gets a ticket. I'm just saying Ms. Bondi & her supporters shouldn't feel singled out - Arlington (and VA) has been picking on drivers for this as long as I've lived here. And is it true, Mr. Gutshall?
Sue Usiskin January 13, 2012 at 08:49 PM
I am sure Mr. Gutshall is a very well respected tax advisor.
Sue Usiskin January 13, 2012 at 09:11 PM
I also think that since some people believe that paying a tax bill late, whether it is one day late or a month, means you are a delinquent and not suitable for public office, that those same people should do FOIA requests on themselves and on all of the elected officials in Arlington, including Mr. O'Leary. I would like to know if our county treasurer has paid all of his bills on time every year for the past twenty years. It would also be instructive to know if the people who have voiced concerns about the lateness of car tax payments by the current candidates, have a perfect payment record themselves. What is that old adage, People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Maybe the patch can research this and post the results.
Skeptical January 13, 2012 at 11:44 PM
Actually, it's not that hard to pay all your bills on time, assuming you are gainfully employed. I do understand that at times people don't have the money in the bank. But if that is the case, you contact the creditor and explain the difficulty, or at the very worst you skate for a week or two until you have the money in hand. I think everyone's paid a bill of some kind a few days late. Fifty-three days, after having to be dunned, is a stretch, especially if someone has political ambitions. I get a notice of my car tax bill in the mail way in advance, don't you? Acting stunned by the revelation of a five figure IRS lien, after establishing a record of nonpayment of local taxes, is disingenuous. People, politics is a dirty, no-holds-barred game. That's why I don't play it, despite all the times I've said "God, I could do a better job than [fill in the blank]." It's not pretty, but it's a fact; deal with it. Someone who doesn't have her personal ducks in a row before declaring for office loses my respect just as a political strategist. Do I want her managing my community's long term planning and expenditures? Good grief! As for Frank O'Leary... again, it's politics, deal with it. O'Leary has been around a long time and there are grudge matches going back years involved here. http://www.sungazette.net/arlington/news/morroy-deals-with-aftermath-of-treasurer-s-battle/article_c82b75f9-466d-5be3-9e39-b2219b8c885a.html
An other January 14, 2012 at 01:41 AM
Will Chris Zimm announce how much of his excess campaign funds he turned over to M Bondi's campaign? it sure is paying for lots of slick mailers that go into the recycling bin. So much for a hand-picked candidate. I guess next time Chris will ask one more question before he hands out the cash.
Arlington Voter January 14, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Patch: Is Bondi's paycheck being garnished by the IRS? Bondi's answer should be "yes" or "no" -- not, I have to look into to that.
LyonVillager January 16, 2012 at 10:37 PM
There's another issue concerning Bondi, as well as Klingler. About two weeks ago, the Registrar's office sent an email to ALL of the campaigns notifying them that it is illegal to put campaign signs in road medians (and other public areas) for a caucus. This election is technically an "unassembled" caucus, which the candidates all know. Despite that email, the Bondi and Klingler campaigns have signs up in medians all over the place. They've had plenty of time to take them down. Bondi, in particular, seems to feel she's above the law. Surely we have better candidates. Or the Democrats will give this seat away.
momhon January 17, 2012 at 04:50 AM
I have found that disturbing as well. Not only because, even if they're the fault of over-enthusiastic volunteers, the campaigns should have had them taken down (and thereby demonstrate their ability to obey the law & play fair) - but also, how are campaigns for the nomination to run for a county board seat able to afford such large & slick signs? Where is this financing coming from? I have to wonder...
Jason Spencer (Editor) January 17, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Thanks for pointing this out. I've reached out to the Registrar's Office.
Arlington Campaigner January 19, 2012 at 07:27 PM
You can see all the candidates' financial reports here: http://www.vpap.org/offices/profile/162?election_id=6530 As for yard signs, they're cheap compared to mailings. As someone who has worked on several campaigns, I know that you can blanket Arlington county in signs for about $2,000 - $3,000 but that it costs $6,000 - $8,000 for one mailing to targeted voters.

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