LAURINBURG — The federal Internal Revenue Service has filed a tax lien against Laurinburg Mayor Matthew Block, according to public records.
The lien — filed by the IRS at the Scotland County Courthouse on Feb. 22 — says Block owes the federal government a total of $101,358.68.
The notice said the lien is for 1040 taxes for 2013 and 2014.
A federal tax lien is the government’s legal claim against a property when someone neglects or fails to pay a tax debt. The lien protects the government’s interest in all property, including real estate, personal property and financial assets.
“We are giving notice that taxes including interest and penalties have been assessed against the named taxpayer,” the IRS said in the notice. “We have made a demand for payment of this liability, but it remains unpaid therefore there is a lien on all property and rights to property belonging to this taxpayer for the amount of these taxes.”
Mayor Block on Monday said that he had originally planned to “take care” of the unpaid tax bill at the end of 2015, but was unable to because he had to deal with a personal medical issue.
“Being out of the office for several months due to an unforeseen family medical setback has been very challenging financially,” Block said in a statement. “However, with the problem behind my family now and my office reopening next week, I fully expect to take care of all my financial obligations in the coming months.”
Block first announced the “medical issue” on Dec. 21 when he said he would have to postpone the oath of office planned for the next day. The Laurinburg cardiologist was sworn in five weeks later.
When reached by telephone, Block declined to say what the medical issue was or why he was not able to pay the taxes when they were first assessed on Nov. 17, 2014 or on Nov. 23, 2015.
And when asked how he was able to spend nearly five times as much as his opponent in the 2015 race for mayor, but not pay his taxes, Block said he thought he could to do both at that time.
Block’s campaign, which according to reports was funded entirely by personal contributions from Block himself, spent a total of $60,075 to unseat incumbent Mayor Tommy Parker. Beginning Aug. 4, Block contributed $11,656 in five installments by the end of the reporting period ending Sept. 22. Between Sept. 25 and Nov. 6 came 14 installments totaling $49,495, according Block’s campaign finance report.
“That was a decision I made,” he said. “I felt I would be able to pay my taxes until this issue arose.”
Block, who had served as Laurinburg’s mayor for four years before losing the race to Parker in 2011, reclaimed the seat with 60 percent of the vote in 2015.
Block added that he does not see his tax problem affecting how he does his job as mayor.
“The citizens will have to decide for themselves whether they think it is an issue,” Block said. “I plan to pay my taxes with late fees. My city, county and state taxes are paid and I have every intention of paying the federal taxes.
“It is not acceptable for people not to pay their taxes, but sometimes circumstances arise and you have to do the best you can do.”
Block said he plans to reopen his medical practice — Scotland Cardiology — on April 6.
Reach editor Scott Witten at 910-506-3023