Tax liens are a problem to John Q. Citizen, – – and even more so for aspiring political candidates as Sam Jenkins can attest. On Sunday (March 1) Jenkins pulled the plug, for the second time, on a press conference to announce his run for Shreveport Major.
The second planned major event was set for Tuesday, March 4. This time it was heavily publicized, and outspoken Caddo Commissioner Ken Epperson had forwarded emails urging support for Jenkins. The only reason given by Jenkins for this cancellation was that he had to get his law office affairs in order.
Jenkins was most likely referring to tax liens, – – not his clients as he implied. The Louisiana Office of Unemployment Insurance has filed liens against Jenkins’ law office (Sam L. Jenkins, Jr. A Professional Law Corporation) for 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013 unpaid unemployment taxes. The 4 liens cover various tax quarters beginning in 2005 through 2012; the last lien was filed in October 2013. The liens, totaling $2020, are subject to additional interest and penalties.
A much more serious problem for Jenkins is 2 federal tax liens, totally over $6700, filed in November 2013 and February 2014. These liens are for 941 taxes, – – the trust taxes withheld from employee paychecks for federal taxes. These taxes are to be remitted by the employer to the IRS, and failure to do so can involve a 100% tax penalty by the IRS. These liens are for unpaid taxes for 4 tax quarters, – – December 31, 2012 through September 30, 2013; it is likely that the payroll taxes have not been paid for the last quarter of 2013.
Medicare taxes and federal unemployment taxes withheld from the employee must be matched by the employer. These liens total $6,775; with matching and tax penalties, the total tax bill could exceed $20,000. Unlike unemployment taxes Jenkins, as the shareholder in his professional corporation, is personally liable for these delinquent payroll taxes, interest and penalties.
Jenkins has had difficulty in gaining diverse support for his mayoral campaign. His strong alliance on the City Council with Shreveport Mayor Glover has not been a positive factor and whether or not the Glover “in group” of supporters will strongly push Jenkins is still an open question. Some observers question if this group can carry much water in this election as compared to the Glover campaigns.
Tax problems for Jenkins are certainly a real negative, – – and most citizens will question his ability to lead a city if he cannot handle the finances of a small law office. Jenkins lost his political mentor and strongest political ally with the death of Joyce Bowman, – – which coupled with his reputation of being Glover’s puppet, has clouded his political identity. Unpaid taxes further diminish his appeal as a viable mayoral candidate.
Perhaps Jenkins can better serve Shreveport by staying in his council seat. He probably could win the council seat this fall; the Queensborough neighborhood that he serves certainly needs strong leadership. As a political candidate for any office Jenkins needs to promptly pay all his taxes. How soon he resolves these outstanding liabilities is an open question that will greatly impact his mayoral aspirations.