Last week, the Kanawha County commissioners discussed over $12 million in unpaid property taxes owed to the county by various debtors. At the meeting, the commissioners directed Chief Tax Deputy Allen Bleigh to develop a way to aggressively go about collecting taxes owed the county. The plan is expected to be developed within the month.
By far, the largest entity to owe the county taxes is Martin Twist Energy, an oil and gas company based in Louisville, Ky. For tax years 2008 to 2012, the company owes Kanawha County over $3 million.
But there could be a problem – Martin Twist, 70, the owner of Martin Twist Energy, is already in trouble with the federal government for not paying taxes. Last month, Twist plead guilty to “a single charge of willfully attempting to evade and defeat the payment of employment taxes, interest and penalties totaling approximately $355,331.24″
According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Kentucky, Twist told bookkeepers and controllers at each of his businesses “(which included Blue Flame Energy Col., LLC; Cherokee Drilling Co., LLC; and Martin Twist Energy Co., LLC) to stop filing employment tax returns and paying over employment taxes” beginning in June 2004. He also fired a bookkeeper who paid taxes to the IRS anyway and concealed assets of his companies from the eyes of the IRS. Meanwhile, Twist was using money from his business accounts to fund a lavish lifestyle, which you can read about in the release.
Twist could face “five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and a term of three years of supervised release” when he is sentenced on Oct. 18 in Louisville, Ky.
Commission President Kent Carper said he hadn’t heard of the Twist case in Kentucky, but he did say the county is continuing to move forward with its plan to collect back taxes. He said the county prosecutor’s office will be helping the county’s tax collection efforts, and the county’s plan could include hiring outside attorneys to assist, though nothing has been decided.