Parker and Hall were facing off with news conferences after a Houston Chronicle report revealed that Hall had to pay the IRS more than $680,000 in back taxes and penalties earlier this year. That story comes after earlier reports highlighted Hall’s tendency to pay his taxes late.
Mayor Parker claims that can’t be an accident.
“$1.2 million in delinquent taxes, penalties and interests in a six-year period. That’s not a mistake, that’s not an accounting error. That’s a pattern, it’s a habit.”
Hall struck back at his own news conference a few hours later, saying the Internal Revenue Service has targeted him unfairly ever since it lost a lawsuit against Hall’s law firm.
“After that victory, in fact, the IRS has tried to audit my business consistently since about 2001 to the present, and so we’re not going to be bullied and we’re not and we will not be and have not been.”
He says he and his wife have paid all taxes they owed. He also says he has fired his accountants after the latest tax issue. But Hall’s main message was, voters don’t care about his problems with the IRS but about what he calls the “real issue.”
“She would like to stay on this issue of taxes because it diverts the attention from the real issue and that is, she’s not taking care of the city’s business.”
He says the citizens care about issues like the pension deficit for city employees, crime and street conditions.
But Bob Stein, political analyst at Rice University, suspects Parker’s campaign knows what they’re doing when they’re going after Hall on delinquent taxes.
“This is an issue that will get more than just some traction. It’s important. I don’t know if it’s more important than anything else. But all I know is that the mayor has clearly segmented her campaign to attacks on the ability of Ben Hall to manage government in the way that she thinks she’s managed it.”
Hall on the other hand is accusing Parker of corruption and favoring certain contractors over others for city business.