Marietta council candidate owes back taxes

Johnny Sinclair, a candidate for Marietta City Council in next Tuesday’s election, owes more than $70,000 in federal and state taxes, according to documents filed with Cobb County Superior Court.

Sinclair said Monday morning that he’s paying back the money and that his personal financial problems don’t reflect on his ability to handle the public’s money.

“I think instead it gives me a new appreciation for what the average American taxpayer is facing,” said Sinclair, a Realtor who previously served on the council from 1998 to 2005. He said he “absolutely” can be trusted to make the right decisions about city finances.

Sinclair faces incumbent Holly Walquist for the Ward 3 council seat. I do hope he's taking care of his tax obligations," Walquist said, "It's not easy but it's something we all have to do."

In August, the Internal Revenue Service filed a lien against his property with the Cobb Clerk of Court alleging Sinclair owes $46,826.74 on his 2005 and 2006 federal taxes. In December, the IRS filed a lien alleging he owed $23,227.39 on his 2003 and 2004 taxes.

The Georgia Department of Revenue filed a lien in May saying he owed $733.76 on his 2003 state taxes.

The city had filed two liens against Sinclair, saying he owed $1,394.70 for 2001 property taxes and $2,190.81 for 2003 property taxes, but those liens were later satisfied, documents show.

Sinclair, 41, said the federal tax liens were filed because “I was not paying the correct amount on my taxes” in his business. He said he’d been making monthly payments to the IRS but fell behind because the downturn in the real estate market hurt his salary.

“I have not been able to pay my obligations,” he said. “At this point they are taking 100 percent of my salary. … I’m down to the bare bones, borrowing money from family members.”

Sinclair said he’s not seeking a council seat for the money. The job pays about $13,000 a year.

He said he decided to run because he doesn’t like the direction city government has taken, especially in redevelopment.

Sinclair said he’ll be glad to talk to his constituents about his problem.

“I knew I would have to look people in the eye and say I owe this debt to the government and I am paying it off,” he said.