Todd Stroger has tax problems everywhere he goes, at home, and on the job. Todd said his cousin Donna Dunnings was so good with finances when he hired her, why didn't he consult with her on his personal taxes? Or did he? If he did not consult his cousin Donna, he certainly is making enough money to hire an accountant. If he can't take care of his personal taxes, how are we to trust him with the tax issues of Cook County?
Todd Stroger has personal tax issues
As he takes political heat for blocking a push to lower county sales taxes, Cook County Board President Todd Stroger is in hot water for a more personal tax issue:
He owes Uncle Sam nearly $12,000 for unpaid income taxes, recently filed records show.
The Internal Revenue Service slapped a $11,668.10 lien on Stroger and his wife earlier this year. The Strogers have yet to fully pay that debt, meaning the federal government could hold up a sale of the Strogers' house or other property if payment terms aren't reached.
Gene Mullins, a Stroger spokesman, told the Chicago Sun-Times on Tuesday night that Stroger and his wife already have made plans to pay the tax man.
But Mullins couldn't provide details beyond that, including how the Strogers let the situation get to the point where the IRS determined it needed to hold their feet to the fire by filing the income-tax lien with the Cook County recorder of deeds.
"It's a bill that him and his wife have made arrangements with the IRS on," Mullins said. "They made arrangements with them, and they're paying it off right now. They worked out a payment plan with the IRS."
The IRS refuses to discuss individual tax cases. Agency officials have yet to file a public notice -- called a "release" -- that shows they're satisfied that the Strogers have paid or are repaying the debt.
The $11,668.10 in the lien stems from the Strogers' 2007 income tax return. It reflects what the IRS claims Stroger and his wife, Jeanine, owed the federal government as of May 19, 2008, including any monetary penalties.
The IRS filed its lien on the Strogers' property -- including their home on South Blackstone -- about nine months after coming up with the $11,668.10 figure. The lien was signed March 12 and filed at the recorder's office March 23.
Typically, the IRS contacts taxpayers so they can dispute its findings or work out payment terms before filing liens, said a nationally known tax expert who went over the fine print of the Strogers' lien with the Sun-Times.
"You could surmise there were several attempts on the part of the IRS to get him to pay -- or at least make a payment arrangement -- and he either did not respond, or, to the extent he did respond, he responded in a way that was insufficient or uncooperative," said Julian Block, a tax lawyer, author and former Chicago IRS revenue officer who now lives in New York.
Together, the Strogers made at least $226,000 in 2007: Todd Stroger pulled in $170,000 as County Board president and Jeanine Stroger made $56,700 as Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White's equal-employment opportunity officer, according to county and state payroll records.
The lien names an IRS "small business/self-employed area" as being involved with the Strogers' tax debt, meaning the overdue taxes might stem from other income earned by the couple.
The Sun-Times' disclosure of the lien comes as Stroger faces increasing criticism for vetoing a repeal of his controversial increase in the county's sales tax rate. Stroger says a full repeal of the penny-on-the-dollar increase is irresponsible in light of county health care needs, among other things.
Todd at Provident Hospital
Cook County Board President Todd Stroger came out swinging Tuesday, saying he blocked the repeal of a sales tax increase to save the county health care system, which caters to a growing number of uninsured patients.
At Provident Hospital on the South Side on Tuesday, he defended his veto of legislation to roll back the tax increase and blasted County Board members for using the giveback as a political ploy
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