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The Utah State Tax Commission filed a tax lien in March against Republican Salt Lake County mayoral candidate Mark Crockett and his wife, claiming they owed $172.46 in back income taxes, court documents show.
Crockett, whose campaign has emphasized that his private business background will enable him to manage the county's budget efficiently, said he was not aware of the lien filed on March 19 for income taxes due in 2009.
"This is complete news to me," Crockett told The Salt Lake Tribune, which verified the presence of the lien in 3rd District Court records. Its existence was brought to light Monday in a blog post by J. M. (Jeff) Bell, a Democratic Party legislative candidate in House District 43.
"I'll certainly take care of it," Crockett added. "To my knowledge, I've paid all my taxes and never had a shortfall. … I must have sent too small of a check in. I'm not trying to stiff people."
His Democratic opponent, Ben McAdams, said Wednesday he was "disappointed" to hear about Crockett's tax lien, adding "a leader needs to lead by example.
"It's important to taxpayers to know that the individual we're trusting to run a $1 billion budget has done his own housekeeping," McAdams added. "Our elected officials should be held to the same standard as all taxpayers. There's no double standard."
Crockett's spokeswoman, Evelyn Call, called the disclosure of the GOP candidate's tax lien "October electioneering," a reaction to polling that shows Crockett ahead of McAdams in the campaign to succeed retiring two-term Democrat Peter Corroon. A Dan Jones and Associates poll conducted Sept. 26-29 for KSL and the Deseret News had Crockett leading McAdams 40-37 percent a 3 point difference that falls within the 5 percent margin of error.
"Whatever they can find. We're ahead and they're getting desperate," Call said, describing the delinquent taxes as "one of those things that fell through the cracks.
"It doesn't speak to the man who has a record of helping companies save millions of dollars. They have to discredit that because that is Mark's strongest background point. It's called October electioneering."
Crockett is managing director of Vici Capital Partners, a consulting firm that has helped several major corporations and the Colorado Department of Natural Resources save millions of dollars by streamlining their operations. McAdams is a state senator and adviser to Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker.
Dee Talbot, State Tax Commission director of taxpayer services, declined to discuss Crockett's case specifically because of privacy policies.
But in general, he said, before a tax lien is filed, the Tax Commission sends taxpayers a "notice and demand" that taxes are overdue, provides a time frame in which to pay them and describes the penalty for failure to do so.
If the delinquency is not taken care of, the Tax Commission notifies the taxpayer in a certified letter that a tax lien has been filed electronically in 3rd District Court, Talbot said. "The lien stays on their record until such time as it's paid," he added.
Court records show that the State Tax Commission filed another lien against Crockett in 2003, but it was later dismissed. Crockett said that case was a misunderstanding involving his move from California to Utah.
Republican Gov. Gary Herbert formally backed his party colleague, Mark Crockett, for Salt Lake County mayor on Wednesday, citing his "experience and passion."