Top tax scofflaws owe Md. $21 million, comptroller says

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Local,Maryland,Rachel Baye

Maryland has lost $21 million to the 50 individuals and corporations who owe the most in unpaid taxes, the comptroller's office announced Thursday.

Comptroller Peter Franchot publishes the list of 50 scofflaws -- referred to as the "Caught in the Web" list -- every six months to shame the delinquents into paying up, said spokeswoman Caron Brace. The office has collected more than $26.5 million since the program started in 2000.

"You need to comply or we're going to mark you with a scarlet letter," Brace said.

Getting a scarlet letter
The top ten individuals
Rex & Marian Frost, Phoenix, Md.$1.3 million
John Katsafanas, Abingdon, Md.$691,476.16
Earl Jenkins, Potomac$365,166.56
Stephen Lynn, Alexandria$288,705.78
Jandir De Moura, Silver Spring$233,034.69
Joseph Blacker, Ellicott City$230,450.04
Jonathan & Mary Ginn, Easton, Md.$222,199.48
Nyles Smith, Capitol Heights$218,554.69
Sylvester Ngong, Laurel$212,385.54
Julie Martin, Baltimore$195,586.08
Source: Maryland comptroller's office

The 25 individuals on the most recent list owe nearly $5.8 million in back taxes, penalties and interest, while the 25 businesses owe more than $15 million.

However, the list does not include individuals or businesses that have been on the delinquent list in the past, even if they haven't fully paid their debt to the state, said Brace, who did not know how much money the state is missing overall.

Topping the list of businesses are OS Assets and OS Capital, two Tampa, Fla.-based branches of a holding company, that owe a total $7.8 million to Maryland. A representative from the company could not be reached, and Brace could not reveal more information.

The individuals owing the most are Phoenix, Md., residents Rex and Marian Frost, who owe $1.3 million. Rex Frost declined to comment without advice from his attorney.

Maryland residents aren't the only ones neglecting to pay up. Virginia alone is missing $1.9 billion in unpaid taxes, $1.8 billion of which is past due, said Virginia Department of Taxation spokesman Joel Davison. Of the total, $1.2 billion is owed by individuals, while businesses owe $686,000.

However, Virginia removed its online list of scofflaws earlier this year, said Davison, who didn't know why the list was removed.

In the District of Columbia, residents and businesses owe $240 million after accounting for bankruptcies, contested cases and the statute of limitations, said Natalie Wilson, spokeswoman for the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue.

Topping the District's list of delinquent taxpayers -- updated "periodically," according to Wilson -- is Barry Morewitz of Friendship Heights, who owes $17.9 million and whose house was seized by D.C. officials last month. Morewitz could not be reached for comment.

Examiner Archives
  • Md. Top 50 tax cheats cost state more than $11m (3-8-11)
  • Md. tax agency faulted for failing to pursue illegal activity (8-15-10)
  • In both D.C. and Maryland, those who haven't paid are warned before their names are publicly scrutinized, said Wilson and Brace.

    However, some on the list were surprised to learn that they owed any money.

    Alexandria resident Stephen Lynn called his $289,000 Maryland debt "unreal." His Fort Washington dental practice went through two bankruptcy proceedings years ago, and he said he now lives off disability and Social Security payments.

    But Lynn is the exception.

    "What we want people to do is communicate with our office," Brace said. "We understand there are tough economic times."

    rbaye@washingtonexaminer.com

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