A new tax lien was filed late last month against the District 4 seat hopeful, bringing the total amount he has in liens from the Internal Revenue Service to about $187,000, records show.
The new lien, in the amount of $10,102.93, was filed two days after Singleton, a former commissioner, pulled 41 percent of the vote in the May 20 primary and secured one of two spots in the July 22 runoff. He is competing against Woodstock architect Kenneth Scott Gordon, the second-place candidate in the primary, to replace retiring Commissioner Jason Nelms in the seat representing southwestern Cherokee.
Singleton said he saw the new lien coming, and he actually expects another soon.
“It was fully expected,” said Singleton, a 55-year-old Woodstock business owner who was on the commission from 1999 to 2003. “As soon as I file my ’13 taxes …they’re going to file a lien for that, too. All the money you owe them, they will file a lien on it.”
He added, “I’m working my best to work my way out of this situation. It’s one of the most complex things I’ve ever (done).”
Singleton’s tax problems came up in March, when voters filed a challenge to his bid, saying his candidacy was in violation of Georgia’s Constitution. The Cherokee Board of Elections sided with the candidate after a 15-minute hearing in April because he is making payments and the Constitution allows those who owe back taxes to run if they are making payments.
The state Constitution also indicates a candidate must have been “finally adjudicated by a court of competent jurisdiction to owe those taxes,” to be disqualified for back taxes, and Singleton has said he has never been adjudicated.
The deadline for a voter to file a challenge to a candidate has passed, meaning elections officials would be the ones to decide if the new lien would affect Singleton’s campaign, Cherokee elections supervisor Janet Munda confirmed.
Munda said she would look into the new lien, but she doesn’t expect it to change anything.
“He’s got to be adjudicated,” Munda said Tuesday. “Of course I’ll look into that. But we’ve been down this road. I don’t think there’s anything more to do at this point.”
Singleton said he and his tax attorney are allowing the IRS to keep filing liens so all the debt can be rolled into a new, negotiated payment plan and taken care of sooner, rather than later. He says he’s been paying $1,331 a month since late 2012.
The candidate said he’s always been open about the issues, but that he has still been criticized for political reasons.
“I really have nothing to hide,” Singleton said. “It’s been common knowledge, but we’re Cherokee County, and this is the way politics are done. People don’t like you; they’re going to dig and dig and dig.”
But Singleton says he has heard from next to no one who thinks the taxes make him less than qualified for the commission.
“We have congressmen that owe even more back taxes than me,” he said. “Nobody has said to me, ‘I have issues with this. You’ll be overseeing the budget.’ The people who understand it know I’m not overseeing the budget.”
He said the county has staff members who work closely with the budgets.
When allegations about Singleton’s taxes surfaced during qualifying, he admitted, in a Facebook post, he owed the money and said he never tried to keep that from anyone.
Singleton has said the taxes accumulated after the Great Recession “hammered” his real estate appraisal business and he made errors on tax filings, resulting in several audits. The latest lien, for his 2012 taxes, is a result of those old issues, he said.
“I got behind, and I got so far behind from the recession that I’m still playing catchup,” he said.
After the audits, Singleton ended up owning $177,000 and set up a payment plan. An annual statement from the IRS, which Singleton has disclosed, shows the candidate had paid off $13,310 as of July 8, 2013.
Singleton said if he had to, he could prove to the Board of Elections again he is making payments.