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Mayor claims tax issue is mixup - Odessa American: News

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Mayor claims tax issue is mixup

Turner has yet to provide receipts proving he has paid $1.1M

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Posted: Friday, November 27, 2020 11:43 am

Mayor David Turner says federal tax records that indicate he owes the IRS $1.1 million in unpaid payroll taxes were caused by a paperwork error that “has been taken care of.”

But Turner, who has promised for more than one month to provide proof that the debt was an error and has been resolved, has yet to do so. Social media accounts of a federal tax lien and Turner’s debt have been circulating for about a month.

“There was a mix-up, but we got it resolved,” Turner said during a Wednesday phone interview. “My attorney is waiting for a receipt from the IRS. Due to COVID everything has been slowed down.”

Turner declined to elaborate on what the “mix-up” entailed. Turner, who owns a chain of seven Subway restaurants, said his attorney is traveling for Thanksgiving and not available for comment.

Turner is seeking public office again and running for the at-large City Council position.

Tax records at the Ector County Courthouse detail that Turner failed to pay $1.1 million in employee payroll taxes to the IRS from 2014-2018. The records indicate he also owes the State of Texas $24,390.71 in unpaid sales taxes. City records also detail Odessa’s number one citizen owes $3,000 in city taxes.

Sales tax revenues that are collected go back to city coffers and are used for things ranging from funding the Odessa Development Corporation to general fund items in the city’s annual budget.

As of Wednesday, the tax website, which is updated regularly, indicated the $1.1 million is still owed by Turner.

This isn’t the first time Turner, a longtime businessman, has been cited by the IRS for failure to pay employee payroll taxes. Since 1999, Turner has failed on several occasions to pay employee payroll taxes on time. In those incidents Turner was fined and had to make payment arrangements with the IRS until the debt was paid. Payroll taxes are collected from employee paychecks and the funds are supposed to be turned over routinely to the government.

Turner is currently locked in a battle with Denise Swanner for an at-large council seat that will be determined in a Dec. 15 runoff election.

Swanner did not return requests for a phone interview, texting that she was busy with the holiday and a death in her family. The runoff is necessary because both candidates failed to garner 50 percent of the vote plus one needed to win the general election. Turner has served two terms as mayor, but due to term limits cannot seek a third as mayor. Swanner is a newcomer to politics.

Early voting begins Monday and ends Dec. 11. Election Day is Dec. 15. Call 498-4030 or visit http://www.co.ector.tx.us/default.aspx?EctorCounty/Elections http://www.sos.state.tx.us

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