State files $5,475 tax lien against embattled Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua

Just a few days after announcing his reelection bid, Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua has been served with a $5,475 tax lien for failing to pay state income tax in 2011.

The state revenue department last week filed the lien against Lantigua, whose three-year tenure has been dogged by controversy and a corruption investigation. A spokeswoman said the department took the step after Lantigua did not respond to several notices over at least six months.

“When we file a lien, it means we have not heard from a taxpayer,” said spokeswoman Ann Dufresne.

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The amount includes $710 in penalties and interest.

Lantigua filed a 2011 tax return, Dufresne said. She declined to say whether he had paid any state income tax, citing privacy guidelines.

Lantigua, who earns $100,000 a year as mayor, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Lawrence is a poor and largely Latino city of 76,000 about 30 miles north of Boston.

The Eagle-Tribune first reported the lien Thursday, a day after the lien was recorded at the registry of deeds.

The lien attaches to Lantigua’s personal property, Dufresne said.

“It’s a notice of personal liability,” she said. “We’re protecting our interests.”

Tax liens impede property sales and make it “virtually impossible” for someone to obtain a mortgage, according to the revenue department.

If Lantigua does not pay the bill, the state can turn to a collection agency, seek a bank levy, or garnish his paycheck.

Two close allies of Lantigua, including his former chief of staff, were indicted in September on corruption charges, including conspiracy and extortion. Both men have pleaded not guilty. Lantigua is the target of a corruption probe by federal and state authorities, for allegations of corruption. Lantigua has denied wrongdoing and he has not been charged with any crimes.

Dan Rivera, a city councilor in Lawrence, said Lantigua’s failure to pay his taxes in full and on time was troubling, and set a poor example.

“As the chief executive, you have to have a higher standard, especially at a time when the city is raising taxes and being as frugal as possible,” he said. “There are some things you just have to do.”

Rivera said that the lapse was particularly glaring given how much the city relies on state subsidies.

Rivera also noted that Lantigua has not filed a required campaign finance report for 2011. The state’s office of campaign and political finance said Lantigua had been fined $5,000.

“I definitely get a sense that there’s a pattern here,” he said.

City Councilor Kendrys Vasquez said the nonpayment was hard to understand given Lantigua’s high salary.

“We all face difficulties nowadays, but we have to be responsible,” he said.

Councilor Sandy Almonte said the lapse was “obviously concerning,” and she hoped Lantigua would resolve the matter quickly.

“We don’t want this to be another raincloud over the city,” she said.

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