Friday, August 20, 2004

IRS files tax lien against Rose

By John Erardi
Enquirer staff writer

The $973,693.28 lien filed by the IRS against Pete Rose represents the tax liability, along with interest and penalties, of the following year's tax returns:

1997: $233,077.59

1999: $248,473.57

2000: $45,466.27

2001: $300,521.02

2002: $146,154.83

The Internal Revenue Service has filed an almost $1 million tax lien against former Cincinnati Reds star Pete Rose in Broward County, Fla., according to the Broward County clerk's office.

The lien is for taxes owed, along with interest and penalties, on five years worth of Rose's individual tax returns: 1997, and 1999 through 2002.

Rose's petition for reinstatement to baseball was derailed last year when the Enquirer reported that he owed the IRS $151,690 on his 1998 tax filing. He eventually paid that debt, which was viewed as helping his case for reinstatement to baseball.

But baseball's position on Rose has remained wait-and-see.

Until Rose is reinstated, he can't be considered for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Rose has been banned from baseball since 1989 because of his involvement in gambling.

But now Rose has an even bigger federal debt: $973,693.28.

Rose's business agent, Warren Greene, did not return calls Thursday. Major League Baseball officials also did not return calls.

Gloria Sutton, a spokeswoman for the IRS, could not speak specifically about Rose's case but said the IRS always has considerable discussion with the taxpayer and his or her representatives before filing a lien.

"It's something that the taxpayer is well aware of - it's not something they don't know," she said.

Paul Caron, a University of Cincinnati tax law professor, said the IRS files a lien only after repeated effort at collection.

"His property is (now) frozen," Caron said. "He's not going to be able to sell it or refinance it or do anything with it until he satisfies the debt and the lien is removed."

The lien is the first step of the IRS taking aggressive action to get its money, Caron said. Next would come attaching of properties and income, such as that which Rose derives from public appearances and selling memorabilia.

"The IRS filed this lien to get (Rose's) attention, to ratchet things up," Caron said. "That they had to file this lien suggests that they haven't been able to get Mr. Rose to take this debt seriously. ... To have a lien in that amount, that's a big number."

Caron said he was surprised a payment plan was not worked out.

"A payment plan would have kept this out of the newspapers," Caron said. "What they (the IRS) want is a good-faith effort to pay. The IRS has a history, of the last five years or so, that if a debtor will meet them halfway - actually, not even halfway - if the (taxpayer) will begin some kind of payment plan, then it can worked out."

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