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Maryland Democrats Owes $14K to IRS for Unpaid Taxes

A budget document shows that Montgomery County’s Democratic Central Committee hasn’t paid the federal government thousands of dollars in fines and fees for unpaid taxes in 2017 and 2018.

The Montgomery County, Md., Democratic Central Committee owes approximately $14,000 in fines to the Internal Revenue Service for two years of unpaid federal taxes, a budget document shows — but committee leadership has kept quiet about the details, including where the cash was spent.

According to a fiscal year 2024 budget proposal, the committee, which is a volunteer-run operation responsible for getting local Democrats elected to public office, nominating politicians for open seats in the state legislature and fundraising for the party, owes the federal government $13,608 in fines and fees for not paying federal taxes in 2017 and 2018.

Several people familiar with the situation said that the IRS was sending notices to an old address after the committee moved offices. During a meeting, committee members were told that an IRS agent eventually showed up at their new office location.

In a statement to The Baltimore Sun, Saman Qadeer Ahmad, the committee’s current chair, said that during recent “routine bookkeeping and compliance checks” the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee “learned of an oversight and clerical issue” that occurred under former leadership that, in turn, caused the committee to owe thousands of dollars to the IRS.

“The current leadership and committee has worked diligently with the IRS to reconcile that issue, and will have the outstanding payment paid in full under the new budget,” Ahmad said in a mid-July email. “The [Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee] will continue to be transparent and collaborative with the IRS, and we look forward to having this behind us so we can focus on the issues at hand in Montgomery County.”

Ahmad did not respond to follow-up emails with questions about when the clerical error was caught, what the committee neglected to pay federal taxes for, where the excess money was spent or if her committee had communicated its financial issues to the state Democratic Party, members of the Montgomery County delegation or other elected officials and registered Democratic voters in the county. The state Democratic Party does not maintain oversight of the finances of county central committees.

Ahmad’s response did not paint a complete picture of how the committee learned of its financial issues.

Ed Fischman, a member representing the county’s 18th district, told The Baltimore Sun in a July phone interview that the committee was told that a representative from the IRS showed up at the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee office to inform them of the problem. Fischman said that there is a possibility that there could be a lien against the committee’s accounts.

Fischman, who has a background in tax law, looked through the committee’s records and found that one payment had been made to the IRS over the two year period. He added that the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee has been regular in its payments to the IRS since the end of 2018.

Scott Goldberg was elected to the committee in early 2017 and became its secretary shortly thereafter. He was elected as the committee’s chair in summer 2018 and served until 2019.

Goldberg said that the issue is related to a part-time employee who had filled out a W-2 form and was supposed to have taxes withheld. He also said that the committee switched payroll services and moved offices.

“Small businesses can be tough, especially when it’s all run by volunteers,” Goldberg said. “I never saw anything from the IRS that said ‘you owe x dollars’ because, if we did, I think we would have come up with a payment plan or just paid it off at the time.”

David Kunes, who was chair of the committee in 2017, donated $8,000 to the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee in the past two weeks.

Goldberg and Kunes no longer serve on the committee. Kunes currently serves as a senior adviser to Montgomery County Councilman Will Jawando in his capacity on the council.

Jawando announced earlier this year that he is seeking the Democratic nomination to replace U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin when he retires at the end of the term.

Neither Ahmad nor Fischman were members of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee when the financial oversight occurred. Both took office in late 2022.

“Everything that this committee has done with respect to that — and it’s only been the last several months and change — has been appropriate,” Fischman said. “The reason we haven’t cut any money to the IRS in respect to that is we’re still waiting for the final determination from them about the penalties.”

According to Fischman, the committee currently has enough funding to pay the fines imposed by the IRS.

There are eight senators and 24 delegates that represent Montgomery County, the state’s most populous jurisdiction, in the Maryland General Assembly.

Of the 32 representatives from Montgomery County, 10 hold positions of leadership, including chair and vice chair positions on the Senate Judicial Proceedings and the Education, Energy and the Environment committees; the chair of the House Environment and Transportation Committee; vice chair positions on the House Ways and Means and the Health and Government Operations committees; the chair of the House Democratic Caucus; the chair of the Legislative Black Caucus; and the title of majority leader in both chambers.

Among the sitting senators from Montgomery County, five were recommended by the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee for appointment by the governor, including one by the current committee. Eight current delegates have been nominated by the committee — four of them in 2023.

In spite of having so much power in the legislature and Montgomery County resident Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller in the executive branch, leadership in the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee has mostly remained quiet — especially since the years that the committee’s federal taxes went unpaid were under a different executive board.

The Baltimore Sun reached out to several members of the current Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee for comment on the fines to the IRS. Comments were deferred to Ahmad.

Fischman said that he is “not offering judgment” on decisions of the current executive committee, but believes that “the process needed to be opened up.”

“In this case, I think it serves our interest to do so even if we’re admitting to some negligence by prior leadership,” he said. “I can tell you that this was news to everybody in our current leadership and the committee when the IRS came to our door ... and that’s my reason for trying to clear the air here.”

©2023 The Baltimore Sun. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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