WASHINGTON — Blame it on the IRS.
The Internal Revenue Service has filed a $819,848 tax lien against Sen. John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign, but Kerry on Wednesday blamed IRS clerical error for the claim and said his campaign owes no tax penalties.
The Massachusetts Democrat said the IRS mishandled payroll tax forms that he said were correctly filed by his campaign in 2005.
"This is a clerical matter, nothing more, nothing less," said Kerry spokeswoman Whitney Smith.
IRS spokesman Anthony Burke declined comment Wednesday, adding that IRS employees are precluded by law from commenting on tax cases.
The IRS notified the Kerry campaign in January 2008 that it had failed to file certain payroll tax forms for the 2004 tax year.
Smith said the IRS must have lost the payroll forms since the Kerry campaign had previously filed them in 2005. But the Kerry campaign filed them again in 2008 in response to the IRS request, she said.
"The IRS contacted us last year about data they lost from the 2004 campaign," Smith said. "We gladly resubmitted all the forms needed to fill in the gaps, end of story."
Smith said the Kerry camp was surprised to learn the IRS had filed a tax lien based on the disputed W-2 payroll forms.
The IRS filed the lien earlier this year in the District of Columbia, saying it had tried to collect the money previously from the Kerry campaign.
"We have made a demand for payment of this liability, but it remains unpaid," according to the IRS tax lien.
Smith said the Kerry camp has been willing to provide the IRS additional documentation to resolve the matter. Kerry officials have been checking monthly with the IRS asking why the matter has yet to be resolved, but have not gotten an answer, she said.
The Washington Times first reported the tax lien against Kerry's campaign on Wednesday.
Kerry lost to former President George W. Bush in the 2004 race. Paperwork was filed last year with the Federal Election Commission closing down Kerry's 2004 campaign account.