By the end of this month, Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor will receive a county paycheck that's significantly less than what he's bringing home now.
The Internal Revenue Service, by way of a legal process called garnishment, is taking $59,386 from Proctor's commissioner salary for unpaid taxes based on income generated from 2006 through 2009, according to a June 1 letter from the county's human resources department. The county is ordered to deduct $4,111 per month from Proctor's $72,130 annual salary until the debt is paid off.
Proctor, who represents District 1 and also is a political-science instructor at Florida A&M University, told the Tallahassee Democrat on Monday he feels like he's been served a "humanitarian gut check."
After quoting various Bible scriptures, he said the garnishment may make him a better commissioner. Proctor said he will be more sensitive to the needs of other residents who are living with very little or less compared to previous years.
"I will learn how to fast and learn how to pray," said Proctor, an associate minister at Bethel AME Church on Orange Avenue. "I believe there are a lot of people who make less money than me and they make it. This ain't doomsday."
Proctor, who hired an accountant to handle his tax returns, said he earns approximately $55,000 as a FAMU instructor. He said he may need to get another job to make ends meet.
No other county commissioner is bringing home a garnished check, said county spokesman Jon Brown.
Proctor's paycheck has shrunk before.
In 2005, his commissioner salary was garnished by the IRS and the U.S. Department of Education for unpaid taxes and defaulted student loans.
According to a previous Democrat article, Proctor owed the IRS $61,750 in unpaid income taxes, interest and penalties for years 1997-2002. A federal tax lien, which is a hold or claim on property until a debt is paid, was filed in the Leon County Clerk of the Circuit Court on July 18, 2005.
Proctor also still owes $82,017 in fines to the Florida Elections Commission for violations dating back to his 1998 campaign. He was charged with 178 violations, and the Elections Commission sought more than $200,000 in fines. A judge later ordered him to pay the lesser amount.
In October, Proctor told the Democrat he had no plans to pay the fine anytime soon and referred to himself as an "indentured slave to the state."
When asked if he plans to deal with the election fines in light of his latest garnishment, the four-term commissioner quickly said, "Man, somebody needs to forgive that."
He said the Florida Commission on Ethics voted Friday to write off more than $191,000 in bad debts and fines older than a decade against elected officials. He said the federal and state government picks and chooses who they want to save from outstanding fines.
"The government gives monies to corporations to bail them out, but I'm not in the loop," Proctor said. "I'm the one they take money from, not the one they want to give to."
Proctor said he's not aware of whether his FAMU check also is being garnished. Although he won't see a full county check for more than a year, Proctor said, "It's just money ... I've been poor before.
"There is nothing I can do to undo what the government can do to me," Proctor said. "They went to my boss and said his check belongs to us."
Read more: IRS to garnish nearly $60K from Proctor's commission paycheck | tallahassee.com | Tallahassee Democrat IRS to garnish nearly $60K from Proctor's commission paycheck | tallahassee.com | Tallahassee Democrat
I hope everyone who has tried to take advantage of their fellow Americans by shirking taxes they could and should have paid gets the same treatment!