Statement from Gerard Terry in Regards to Back Taxes

NEW YORK--()--The following is a statement from Gerard Terry:

“As many of us are getting our W2 forms in anticipation of filing our taxes this spring it would be helpful to remember that core philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous that the first step on the road to recovery is to admit you have a problem.”

“As many of us are getting our W2 forms in anticipation of filing our taxes this spring it would be helpful to remember that core philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous that the first step on the road to recovery is to admit you have a problem.

I owe back taxes to the IRS.

A lot of back taxes.

In fact, I currently have a formal offer pending with the IRS for a structured program to address an obligation of some one million plus dollars, which has accumulated over more than a decade. When you add in the penalties and interest, it’s considerably more. And then I need to tackle my New York state arrears.

As an attorney and political leader, one would assume I might be the last person to run afoul of failing to cut a tax check on time, but that failure reflects more on personality than profession. The obvious safeguards can’t prevent an individual from crashing into barriers if you combine Type-A workaholic compulsion with self-denial and truly catastrophic health issues.

The personal embarrassment is very real. At the same time I’ve failed to properly deal with this issue, much of my law practice has been focused on serving public sector clients. So the taxpayers have been paying legal fees to me and, in turn, my own tax obligations have not been met - not something anyone should be proud of. Some of these clients are folks with whom I’ve had relationships of confidence and trust for a decade or more.

For me, discussing it publicly is part cathartic and part cautionary tale to those entrepreneurial business people who share my personality traits. No rational, law-abiding business person starts off by saying, “I ain’t paying my taxes…” In my case, I rationalized missed tax deadlines by saying I would get to dealing with that responsibility after finishing the next project for a client and following a clean bill of health, following a cascading series of major medical crises. There was nothing venal in that decision but it just didn’t happen.

And that’s the paramount lesson. Driven overachievers can compartmentalize almost anything and, in the process, they stash some of the most important issues on the top shelf at back of the closet and intend to retrieve them at some point. And of course they never do. Their actions may not impact their ability to serve their clients, but the personal results are devastating.

As I dig deep to pay the back taxes and penalties, and get on schedule with my current estimated taxes, I've made a personal New Year’s resolution to become the biggest, most effective canary in the mineshaft. If this can happen to me, an officer of the court who has been involved in politics for all of his adult life, this can happen to anyone. I have an obligation to use this experience to warn others that April 15th is not something “you’ll get to.” Think of the IRS as a client to which you owe professional responsibility and you will find your focus has just been considerably sharpened.

For the record, I do want to say that I'm optimistic. My income has always been fully reported on my tax returns, so at least we're dealing with an accurate baseline. I'm working with an experienced accountant who is a tough and exacting task master. My clients know what's going on and they have been understanding and supportive. So 2016 is the year I’m stepping up to do what most everyone else is able to do. And I’m looking forward to a life-changing result.”

Gerard Terry is a practicing attorney for 30 years on Long Island, N.Y. and Chairman of Town of North Hempstead Democratic Party

Contacts

Rubenstein Associates, Inc.
Gary Lewi
Glewi@rubenstein.com