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Glenn Greenwald, reporter who broke Snowden-NSA leaks story, paying past-due taxes

I'm not here to shoot, or disparage, the messenger. And I freely admit that this is not hot off the presses info. But I just ran across it and there's a tax component, and lesson, so ...

Glenn Greenwald, the reporter for The Guardian who broke the story of Edward Snowden leaking National Security Agency (NSA) documents, is working through some personal tax troubles.

Glenn Greenwald on MSNBC Morning Joe June 10 2013 screen capture from YouTube
Click image to view Greenwald's appearance June 10, 2013, on MSNBC's Morning Joe program.

The New York Daily News reported back in June that:

"The New York County Clerk's office shows Greenwald has $126,000 in open judgments and liens against him dating to 2000, including a $21,000 from the state Tax Department and the city Department of Finance.

There's no record of those debts being paid, but Greenwald said he believes he's all caught up — although he’s still trying to pay down an old IRS judgment against him from his lawyer days.

Records show the IRS has an $85,000 lien against him."

The "lawyer days" reference is to the years that Greenwald, a Queens native, practiced law after graduating from New York University.

Acknowledging 'messy' life: As for the tax and other issues reported by the New York newspapers, Greenwald responded via a column in The Guardian, saying in part:

"The second item the reporter had somehow obtained was one showing an unpaid liability to the IRS stemming, it appears, from some of the last years of my law practice. I've always filed all of my tax returns and there's no issue of tax evasion or fraud. It's just back taxes for which my lawyers have been working to reach a payment agreement with the IRS. ...

I'm 46 years old and, like most people, have lived a complicated and varied adult life. I didn't manage my life from the age of 18 onward with the intention of being a Family Values US senator. My personal life, like pretty much everyone's, is complex and sometimes messy."

Greenwald is correct. We've all done things we wish we could take back. If you haven't, feel free to contact Vatican City about possible sainthood.

When such indiscretions are revealed, it's at best uncomfortable. 

Paying back taxes: But when it comes to taxes, in addition to being embarrassing, it could be quite costly.

Greenwald says he is working with tax officials to pay what he owes. Good move.

If you're ever in a similar situation -- owing taxes, not breaking a major story about government spying -- don't wait for it to be uncovered by the media.

Contact the Internal Revenue Service, or as Greenwald is doing and hire a professional (preferably one who specializes in tax debts) to handle the matter, and arrange for a payment plan. You want to stop the continuing penalty and interest charges ASAP.

The IRS offers several payment options for folks who can't come up all that they owe Uncle Sam. They include:

  • Installment agreements, both short-term (120 days) and longer payment arrangements; 
  • Fresh Start options if you're between jobs; and
  • Offers in compromise to settle tax debts for less than the full bill.

There are, of course, requirements to qualify for each payment situation. But look into them. One might meet your financial and tax needs and eligibility situation.

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