KCBD INVESTIGATES: Lubbock officials owe thousands in property, income taxes
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - What if we told you that one of the officials responsible for setting the tax rate, sending you to jail, or evicting you from your home was delinquent on their property taxes or federal income taxes?
2016 property taxes were delinquent as of Feb. 1, 2017, and you may be surprised to learn who has yet to pay.
The KCBD Investigative Team has new information on city and county elected officials who owe thousands.
According the Internal Revenue Service, Judge Ann-Marie Carruth and her husband Kyle owe $69,640.43 in 1040 taxes.
The KCBD Investigative Team uncovered a federal tax lien filed April 10, 2017 against Kyle Carruth and Ann-Marie Saleh, Judge Carruth's maiden name.
And that's not all.
The public filing prompted us to look at other elected officials, and not just for income taxes.
We went to the Lubbock Central Appraisal District website and looked up every state, city and county elected official in Lubbock.
There, we found Judge Carruth and her husband also have past due 2016 property taxes.
The appraisal district website showed a total amount of $9,100.91 due on their home, appraised at $481,934.
The amount due includes $1,067.58 in penalties and interest.
Carruth's job as Justice of the Peace paid her $71,832.54 in 2016.
According to the Lubbock County website, Judge Carruth's JP Court handles Class C misdemeanor cases punishable by fine only, including traffic tickets, penal code offenses, and hot checks.
That court may also handle civil matters such as evictions, matters concerning foreclosures of mortgages and enforcement of liens on personal property.
We spoke with the Carruths, who are out of state. They sent us this statement:
"We have been working with the IRS regarding the correct amount owed on two specific years' tax returns. We are shocked to learn about the filing of the tax lien as the IRS previously indicated this would not happen. We are actively pursuing a resolution, and, upon such, the final amount will be remitted in full."
The KCBD Investigative Team has learned that this problem is not unique to the courthouse.
We discovered Councilwoman Karen Gibson, who is listed as one of the owners of Gibson Plumbing, owed money on that building.
When we began looking into this story on Tuesday, there were 2016 commercial property taxes of $2,403.30 due out of a total bill of $5,293.79.
As a member of the city council, some of Gibson's responsibilities include voting on a budget, establishing city policy and setting the city property tax rate.
Lubbock city council members receive $25 per month for their service.
We left Councilwoman Gibson a message on Wednesday afternoon, telling her we wanted to ask her about property taxes.
She called us back on Thursday morning and said as of today, the property taxes are paid in full.
In 2011, KCBD reported when Councilman Victor Hernandez had several years of unpaid back taxes on commercial property.
"We are like a lot of families within the city; they're having trouble making ends meet. They do the best they can. We've never not paid our taxes, and is there a premium attached to that? Yes, but we pay those as well," Hernandez said in 2010.
Hernandez paid his $10,000 bill one day before council took up the matter.
Mayor at the time, Tom Martin, argued that Hernandez's outstanding taxes violated the city charter.
District Attorney Matt Powell looked into the issue and said his office declined to pursue court proceedings because courts have ruled it is unconstitutional to hold someone in violation of a particular provision like this one.
While Judge Carruth and Councilwoman Gibson are the only elected officials mentioned in this story, there could be more.
State law allows some public officials, including state judges, law enforcement, and district attorneys to have their information removed from the appraisal district website for security purposes.
The KCBD Investigative Team has requested delinquent payment information for those elected officials for whom we found no record.
We will bring you that information when the appraisal district responds.
LCAD tells us about 94 percent of taxpayers pay on time.
It's important to note that we searched under individual names only. We did not attempt to search business names.
It is also important to know when viewing LCAD, the "date paid" on the LCAD website is the posted date.
The effective date may be something different and is determined by the postmark on your envelope.
This year, it was March 10 before the last of the January mail was posted.
Records identified for the following elected officials (PAID indicates record of timely payment):
Lubbock City Council
- Dan Pope- PAID
- Latrelle Bright Joy- PAID
- Steve Massengale- PAID
- Juan Chadis- PAID
- Shelia Patterson Harris- PAID
- Jeff Griffith- PAID
- Karen Gibson- Homestead PAID. Building at 11703 US Hwy 87 owed $2,403.30; reported paid 4/27/2017.
- Judge Jorge Hernandez- PAID
Lubbock County Commissioners Court
- Bill McCay- PAID
- Gilbert Flores- PAID
- Patty Jones- PAID
- Mark Heinrich- PAID
Lubbock County Justices of the Peace
- Aurora Hernandez- PAID
- Ann-Marie Saleh Carruth- Homestead owes $9,100.91
- Lubbock County Constables
- Paul Hanna- PAID
- Judge Mark Hocker- PAID
- Tax Assessor/Collector Ronnie Keister- PAID
- County Treasurer Christopher Winn- PAID
- County Clerk Kelly Pinion- PAID
- State Senator Charles Perry- PAID
- State Representative Dustin Burrows- PAID
- State Representative John Frullo- PAID
No LCAD records identified for:
- Lubbock County Commissioners Court Judge Tom Head
- Lubbock County Justices of the Peace Jim Hansen and Jim Dulin
- Lubbock County Constables Marina Garcia and C.J. Peterson
- County Courts at Law Judge Drue Farmer and Judge Judy Parker
- Lubbock County District Courts Judge William C. Sowder, Judge Ruben Reyes, Judge John J. McClendon III, Judge Jim Bob Darnell, Judge Les Hatch, and Judge William R. Eichman III.
- Sheriff Kelly Rowe
- District Clerk Barbara Sucsy
- District Attorney Matthew C. Powell
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