||New Jersey Libertarian Party
Open Government Advocacy Project:
Lawrence Township levied for attorney\'s back taxes
July 18, 2012
Township of Lawrence
357 Main Street
Cedarville, NJ 08311
Attn: Hon. Elmer Skip Bowman, Mayor (via e-mail to email@example.com)
Hon. G. Erwin Sheppard, Deputy Mayor (via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Hon. Joseph Miletta, Jr., Committeeman (via e-mail to email@example.com)
I write both individually and on behalf of the New Jersey Libertarian Party\'s Open Government Advocacy Project to inquire about certain Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax levies that have been served upon the Township that seek payment of back taxes owed by Township Solicitor Thomas E. Seeley.
In order to track down a rumor that \"Lawrence Township is paying the government instead of Mr. Seeley on account of back taxes\" I stopped by the Municipal Building in Cedarville on July 13th and submitted an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request for a) \"the most recent three checks that were paid out on account of Mr. Seeley\'s services\" and b) \"a copy of any court order or agreement that requires the check to be sent to a third party.\" Today, in response to my OPRA request, Township Clerk Ruth Dawson faxed me twelve (12) pages of responsive records, which I have placed on-line here.
The first three pages are copies of checks showing that:
a) The Township paid the Seeley Law Office $2,422.50 on June 7, 2012.
b) The Township paid the IRS $684.53 on June 29, 2012 (the memo on the check states \"941 for 07/08 940 for 2007\").
c) The Township paid the Seeley Law Office $1,654.95 on July 5, 2012.
The remaining nine pages are \"Notices of Levy on Wages, Salary and Other Income\" that were issued by the IRS between March 10, 2009 and May 6, 2011. These notices direct the Township of Lawrence to pay the IRS hundreds of thousands of dollars in Mr. Seeley\'s taxes that were evidently left unpaid by him during 2006 through 2009.
While I am not familiar with taxation and tax levy issues, these records do raise some initial questions:
1. The IRS\'s May 6, 2011 levy notice instructs the Township \"to turn over to us . . . this taxpayer\'s wages and salary that have been earned by not paid yet, as well as wages and salary earned in the future until this levy is released.\" This seems to require Lawrence Township to pay the IRS all of the money earned by Mr. Seeley. Yet, the checks that Clerk Dawson sent me show that Mr. Seeley\'s law firm is still getting paid thousands of dollars while the IRS is getting paid hundreds of dollars. Could you please explain how the Township is justifying still paying Mr. Seeley any amount of money while the levies are in force?
2. Has the Township sought or received any legal advice on how to process these levies? If so, has the Township contacted separate counsel since, obviously, Mr. Seeley, as Township Solicitor, cannot advise the Township on this matter?
3. Finally, while the Township Committee is certainly free to select any lawyer it wishes, some might question the wisdom of retaining an attorney who has allowed so many tax levies to be entered against him. What is so special about the quality of Mr. Seeley\'s legal services that causes the Township to continue to retain him, over other area attorneys?
Thank you for your attention to this matter. I look forward to hearing from you.
John Paff, Chairman
New Jersey Libertarian Party\'s
Open Government Advocacy Project
P.O. Box 5424
Somerset, NJ 08875
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