New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell owes more than $95,000 to the Internal Revenue Service for unpaid taxes over the course of six years, according to liens filed by the agency against her home in Broadmoor.
The liens, first reported by WVUE-TV on Thursday, were all filed after Cantrell was elected mayor in 2018.
They are on top of nearly $30,000 in liens that were revealed by The Lens during the 2017 mayoral election. Cantrell initially dismissed those as being due to a bank error and said she paid them off before voters went to the polls.
Cantrell spokesman Beau Tidwell replied to questions about the liens Thursday with a two-line statement.
“As the mayor disclosed in 2017, this matter is being addressed privately by the Cantrell family and their tax attorney,” Tidwell said. “They look forward to resolving it soon.”
Tidwell declined to say why the Cantrells appear to have a pattern of unpaid taxes or what efforts are being made to pay up.
The current liens, which stretch back to 2013, name both Cantrell and her husband, defense attorney Jason Cantrell.
According to the documents posted by WVUE-TV, the IRS put a lien on the Cantrells’ home in January 2018 for about $43,660 in taxes owed for 2013, 2014 and 2015.
A year later, another lien was filed for $31,940 in unpaid taxes from 2017.
Then earlier this month, the IRS filed a third lien for about $19,400 in unpaid taxes from 2018.
According to a 2018 financial disclosure form, Cantrell made about $138,400 as mayor and her husband made more than $100,000 as a defense attorney. Her 2019 financial disclosure form was not posted on the state Ethics Board’s website on Thursday and it was not clear whether she had filed one.
The 2018 disclosure does not list any other sources of income. But it does note that Jason Cantrell owed more than $10,000 to the IRS.
Unpaid taxes became an issue for Cantrell in her race for mayor. During the campaign, The Lens revealed the IRS had placed a lien on the Cantrells’ home in 2014 for nearly $28,000 in unpaid taxes from 2010, 2011 and 2012.
At the time, Cantrell said she and her husband had paid taxes but that the IRS determined they owed more. The couple had expected to clear up a large portion of that debt when they refinanced their home, with about $24,000 of that loan going to the IRS.
But Cantrell said their bank, First NBC, never made that payment. When the bank collapsed in 2017, the money was still in an escrow account. Eventually Whitney Bank, which took over the loan, released the money to the Cantrells, who paid off a debt worth more than $30,000, including penalties and interest, in September 2017.
Since taking office in May 2018, Cantrell has put a particular focus on what she calls her “fair share” plan, a series of initiatives aimed at increasing the amount of tax revenue collected by New Orleans. In addition to pursuing proposals to institute new property and hotel taxes, the administration has also discussed going after businesses that have not paid all the sales taxes they owe.
The mayor, through her Action New Orleans political fund-raising committee, issued a statement Thursday night. It said:
“Unfortunately, our family has been struggling with this debt for years. We are working with tax experts to resolve and pay this off as soon as possible. It’s very painful for this news to be made public, but I know many of our city’s residents face similar challenges, while they work hard everyday, of keeping their homes. I still live on Louisiana Avenue Parkway like I always have, and will continue to work side by side, everyday with our residents, for a better future for all New Orleanians. We are all in this together.”