Judge: Federal tax lien and subsequent story stained reputation

By David Wiseman

On this first day of December, I woke up to a message from a friend about an article in the news and on social media with my judge photo and a story about me not having paid a tax allegedly due from 2015 -2016 in the sum of $24,551.45.


Amazing how an accomplished good reputation of four decades in the CNMI, that I am proud of, can be stained by a news article that did not ask or contact the other party for comments prior to publishing the story.


In any event, the present tax lien was filed by Richard Santos, the manager of the Collection Branch of the CNMI Rev&Tax Department (Rev&Tax), with whom I had communicated on several occasions, when I was making payments through him, pursuant to an installment agreement I had with Rev&Tax.


Notwithstanding such communication years ago, I was never contacted nor notified about the alleged tax due, nor did I receive any notice of the filing of said tax lien.


A letter I sent to Mr. Santos, dated August 25, 2018, captioned Installment Agreement Payment In Full, referenced my last payment of $3,647.07 on July 11, 2018.

The letter also stated that, in my opinion, this sum was the balance remaining on the installment agreement for payment of taxes due 2015-2016, and that it has been paid in full.


Unfortunately, I did not receive any response nor dispute with my statement in said letter. The letter also concluded by thanking several employees at Rev&Tax, along with Mr. Santos, for their courteous and helpful assistance and cooperation in handling, what was for us, a very substantial tax payment.


The installment agreement was for a very large tax sum of $152,440.00. This substantial tax was due because of preparing to move off island and selling off some CNMI assets for which we had to pay taxes on.


Upon signing the installment agreement, I paid down the sum of $52,440 and then made several partial payments thereafter, until finally paying off what I assumed, in good faith, was the balance.


So here I am, years later, viewing a very disturbing and unwarranted stain on my reputation from a published newspaper story and on social media, on a matter I assumed was completed and satisfied years ago.


In closing, the detrimental effect of the filing and subsequent news story, could all have been avoided with a simple phone call, message, or other communication to me, which would have brought about a discussion with Rev&Tax with respect to this matter.


David A. Wiseman is a retired judge of the Superior Court of the CNMI.


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