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Council candidate Stephen Box faced tax liens

Liens for $11,813 in federal taxes were filed with the county registrar in 1994 and '95. A '99 state tax lien and a bank's nonpayment claim were resolved. Box says he was not aware of any liens and is debt-free.

March 08, 2011|By Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times
  • Stephen Box, campaigning last month, is one of two challengers trying to unseat City Councilman Tom LaBonge. He called the information about the tax liens a smear.
Stephen Box, campaigning last month, is one of two challengers trying to… (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles…)

Los Angeles City Council candidate Stephen Box did not pay thousands of dollars in taxes on time in 1994, 1995 and 1999, according to liens filed against him with the L.A. County registrar-recorder.

According to the liens, Box failed to pay a total of $11,813 in federal taxes in 1994 and 1995, and $2,691 in state taxes in 1999, some of which may have been subsequently paid.

Another lien was filed against him in 2008 in connection with a small-claims-court case over an alleged nonpayment of $2,618 to Capital One bank.

Questioned about the liens Monday, Box said he knew nothing about them. He called the information a smear.

"I file my taxes, I pay my taxes, I don't know about the liens," Box said. "The campaign is full of desperation. I think it's just beyond contempt."

Box, 53, is one of two challengers trying to unseat Councilman Tom LaBonge to represent a district that spans sections of Koreatown, Silver Lake, Hollywood and North Hollywood. A video producer and bicycling activist from Hollywood, Box has pledged to help balance the city's budget by increasing revenue, in part by ensuring it collects the money it is due.

At least some of the back taxes and bills appear to have been paid. The liens relating to Capital One and the state taxes were lifted in recent years, according to the registrar's office. The registrar did not have a record that the federal lien had been lifted.

Box said he had never been aware of any liens placed against him.

"Oftentimes claims occur," he said. "But I would suggest that any claims had been resolved."

Tax authorities say taxpayers are routinely notified when a lien has been filed for alleged delinquency.

Box, who freelances through his company Third Eye Creative, said filing taxes as a small-business owner can be an "obtuse process."

"It's a rough road to hew and the paperwork is cumbersome," he said. Box said he is debt-free.

The candidate confirmed that a civil judgment was filed against him in 1995 by a healthcare collection agency in Kentucky, where he once lived.

Box said he incurred that debt during a medical crisis, but that he had settled it.

kate.linthicum@latimes.com

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