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Maldonado settles family tax bill

July 26, 2010 |  4:30 pm

Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado’s family business paid $111,146 in back taxes Monday, after weekend news coverage of serious tax problems faced by the state’s second-highest-ranking public official.

Monday afternoon, Maldonado’s campaign manager released a copy of an IRS lien release, reportedly obtained after the Santa Maria-based company delivered a check to the IRS office Monday.

The statement says Abel Maldonado “advocated paying the IRS bill off as soon as it was presented,” but he was outvoted by the other two board members of the family owned Agro-Jal Farming Enterprises – his father and his brother.

The IRS lien, filed April 13, two weeks before Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger swore Maldonado in as lieutenant governor, represented the ninth time since 1992 that federal, state or local tax collectors had resorted to liens against the business in an effort to compel payments totaling more than $240,000, public records show.  

Maldonado’s campaign manager, Brandon Gesicki, said the current tax dispute centered on use of about a dozen Ford F-150 pickup trucks driven by company officers, including Maldonado's father, mother and sister.  The federal government claimed that the trucks were being used as personal vehicles and demanded that the company pay taxes on them as part of employee compensation, Gesicki said.

The company argues that the trucks are being used for business, Gesicki said.

Monday’s statement, from Abel’s brother Frank Maldonado, said the company paid the tax “under protest” and will continue to try to convince the IRS that the vehicles are business expenses.  But he and his father decided to pay the tax, according to the statement, because they “cannot sit by and see a family member unfairly tarnished by a board decision he strongly opposed.”

-- Jack Dolan in Sacramento