US taxman chases Schwarzenegger over alleged unpaid $80,000 debt

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The Independent US

He presides over a state that is billions of dollars in debt and recently began issuing IOU notes to creditors after its coffers ran dry. Now it seems Arnold Schwarzenegger's iffy stewardship of public finances may extend to his private realm.

The Governor of California has been embarrassed by claims that he is being pursued for almost $80,000 [£49,000] by the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for back-taxes that he apparently still owes the federal government from 2004 and 2005. A document allegedly filed at LA Superior Court in May, and now published by the showbusiness website, suggests that Mr Schwarzenegger failed to pay $39,047 he owed for the first of the two years and $40,016 in the second.

A spokesman for the court confirmed the debt was outstanding. Exactly how, and why, the former action hero has apprently ended up being pursued for such a relatively paltry sum (for a multimillionaire) remains unclear. Yesterday, his spokesman Aaron McLear insisted: "The Governor has paid his taxes in full and on time. No one, including the IRS, has notified the Governor of any issues whatsoever with his taxes. We are contacting the IRS to determine if the document in question, which appears to be a penalty for missing info and not for unpaid taxes, is legitimate and if there is any discrepancy to resolve."

The document published by TMZ is a lien, or a holding document that prevents the sale of a property until a debt has been paid off. It was sought by the IRS and relates to money owing to the federal, rather than the state, administration.

Its release comes at an unfortunate time for Mr Schwarzenegger, who is due to complete his second term as Governor next year. Under his stewardship, California has clocked up a deficit of roughly $26bn. Though he has tried to balance the books, Republicans in the state senate have blocked tax rises, while Democrats have prevented serious spending cuts.

The TMZ document does not reveal which property the lien is secured against, but it names Mr Schwarzenegger as the lone debtor and the address it carries matches that of his home in Brentwood, an upmarket suburb of Los Angeles.

It also refers to a section of the US tax code which suggests that the outstanding amounts may be a penalty fee for failing to report business transactions.

This is not the first time TMZ has put Mr Schwarzenegger on the spot. Last month, it published photos of his wife, Maria Shriver, using her mobile telephone while driving – a practice recently outlawed in California, by the Governor himself.