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IRS Files Lien On 2004 Kerry Campaign

This story was written by Prerana Swami.

Senator John Kerry may have lost his presidential bid in 2004, but his campaign isn't entirely off the books yet: The IRS has filed a tax lien against the Kerry campaign seeking more than $800,000 in federal taxes, the Washington Times reports.

The lien, usually the last stage in the collection process, was filed earlier this year and included claims that previous pickup attempts had been unsuccessful, the Washington Times reported.

"We have made a demand for payment of this liability, but it remains unpaid," the filing stated.

The Kerry campaign says that the debt has already been paid.

"The IRS merely has a gap in their electronic records of the 2004 campaign's payroll forms," Kerry spokeswoman Whitney Smith told the Times. "We filed these forms correctly, and we're working with the IRS to provide them any and all needed information to set the record straight."

The IRS generally files a lien in order to ensure it has legal claim on property to collect tax debt, although it is unclear whether the IRS has claims in this case. The lien is in accordance with standard procedure, and campaigns are not exempt.

"Campaigns are employers just like any other business," Marc S. Owens, former director of exempt-organizations for the IRS, told the Times. "The IRS wants its employee withholding taxes."

It is also unclear if the money will come from Kerry's pocket. Although a candidate can usually contribute an unlimited amount of personal funds to his or her campaign, the Kerry campaign voluntarily accepted public funding, limiting personal contribution to $50,000.

The Kerry campaign was officially terminated in the eyes of the Federal Election Commission last year, with a cash balance of zero. If the IRS is rightfully pursuing Kerry, he may have to consult with the FEC to figure out how to finance any payment, former FEC Chairman Michael Toner said.

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