Politics

Trump Fed pick Stephen Moore says he paid off $75,000 tax lien but that IRS owes him money

Key Points
  • Stephen Moore, who has been tapped by President Donald Trump to join the Federal Reserve board, says he has paid off a $75,000 income tax lien.
  • The conservative pundit is not abandoning efforts to recoup money from the IRS that he claims he still is owed.
  • The payoff could remove one of several potential hurdles to Moore's nomination when it is reviewed by the Senate. He still could face scrutiny over his economic views, past writings about women, and a contempt finding by a judge.
Stephen Moore, visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation.
Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call Group | Getty Images

Stephen Moore, who has been tapped by President Donald Trump to join the Federal Reserve board, says he has paid off a year-old $75,000 income tax lien — but the conservative pundit is not abandoning efforts to recoup money from the IRS that he claims the agency owes him and his wife.

Moore says he is owed about $50,000 by the IRS as a result of errors by the tax agency.

But the payoff of the lien could remove one of several potential hurdles to Moore's nomination when it is reviewed by the Senate, which has confirmation power over Federal Reserve appointments.

However, Moore still could face scrutiny for his economic views, past writings about women, and a 2012 contempt-of-court finding by a judge after he failed to pay his ex-wife more than $330,000 in alimony, child support and a divorce settlement.

"We paid the lien of $75000 although it was based on about $7000 of tax underpayment," Moore, 59, said in a statement to CNBC released through his spokeswoman on Friday.

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"So accounting for interest, we are owed roughly $50K by the IRS as a result of IRS errors on our deduction for alimony" paid to his ex-wife, Allison Moore, he said.

He added, "We are worried that it could take a long time to get our money back from the IRS."

An IRS spokesman, when asked about Moore's tax situation, said, "Federal law prohibits the IRS from commenting on private taxpayer matters."

Trump on March 22 announced his intention to appoint Moore to the central bank.

Both the president and Moore, who is a distinguished visiting fellow at the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation, have been critical of the Federal Reserve for raising interest rates last year, which they said had the effect of restraining U.S. economic growth.

Another Trump pick for the Fed, businessman Herman Cain, withdrew from contention earlier this week after four GOP senators said they would not support his nomination. Cain dropped his bid for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination in late 2011 after accusations of sexual harassment by several women. He has denied their claims.

Five days after Moore's nomination was floated by Trump, The Guardian newspaper reported that the IRS in January 2018 filed a tax lien against Moore for underpaying income taxes for 2014.

The $75,328.80 lien included back taxes, penalties and interest. On the heels of that report, Democratic Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Ron Wyden of Oregon pressed Moore for an explanation of the lien and related tax questions.

Moore told The Guardian that for several years he had been "working through a dispute with the IRS, attempting to be returned what my attorneys and my accountant believe were tax overpayments of tens of thousands of dollars."

Moore's current wife, Anne Carey, told the Bloomberg news service on March 27 that Moore erroneously deducted the sum total of what he had paid his ex-wife, Allison Moore, in alimony and child support, from his taxes in 2014. At the time, only alimony was deductible.

But the IRS had disallowed the entire deduction of payments to Allison, not just the portion related to child support, according to Carey.

She said that she and Stephen Moore had overpaid their taxes in recent years by around $50,000, and planned to seek that amount in refund when they filed their tax return for 2018.

During an interview with a radio station earlier this week, Moore compared criticism of his nomination to the heat faced by Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, whose own nomination to the high court was almost derailed last year after allegations of sexual misconduct by several women. Kavanaugh denied any wrongdoing.

"You know, they're pulling a Kavanaugh against me," Moore complained to WZFG-AM Radio.

"It's been one personal assault after another and a kind of character assassination, having nothing to do with economics."