2020 Election

Warnock’s Voter Registration Group Failed to Pay Unemployment Taxes

Georgia Dem Senate candidate wants to expand unemployment benefits

Raphael Warnock
Raphael Warnock / Getty Images

Georgia Democratic Senate candidate Raphael Warnock's voter registration group was hit with thousands of dollars in tax liens for unpaid unemployment insurance, according to state records obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The New Georgia Project, where Warnock served as CEO from 2017 until February 2020, owes $7,808 to the Georgia Department of Labor for allegedly failing to pay state unemployment contributions in 2018. The liens are still outstanding, according to records.

The tax liens could pose an obstacle for Warnock, who has campaigned for the expansion of unemployment benefits and vowed to crack down on tax loopholes. They could also draw more scrutiny to the New Georgia Project, which is currently under investigation by the Georgia secretary of state for allegedly attempting to register out-of-state voters.

The Georgia Department of Labor issued a $4,385 lien against the New Georgia Project in February 2019, according to records from the Georgia Superior Court Clerks' Cooperative Authority. The amount included $3,847 in estimated unpaid unemployment taxes for the quarters ending June 30, 2018, and Sept. 30, 2018, plus interest, penalties, and fees.

The department issued a second $3,423 lien against the group in May 2019, which included $3,009 in estimated unemployment taxes, according to the records.

Neither the Warnock campaign nor the New Georgia Project responded to requests for comment.

The unemployment insurance tax is used to pay out benefits to workers who lose their jobs.

The organization was ordered to pay the assessment within 60 days, but records indicate that both liens are still pending.

Harvey Bezozi, an accountant who specializes in tax debt resolution, said tax authorities typically give multiple notices before filing a lien.

"In almost all circumstances, it takes quite a while before a lien is filed against an individual or business taxpayer by the IRS or any state taxing authority," Bezozi said. "Throughout my career, I have only seen liens filed when an individual or business blatantly ignores ongoing written correspondence sent to them by a taxing authority."

Warnock has made the extension of unemployment benefits a centerpiece of his campaign, arguing that his opponent, Republican senator Kelly Loeffler, won't do enough to help Georgians who are out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"We have to make sure that the people who can't work have the benefits they need," said Warnock in an interview with the AARP in October. "And we have to make sure that when people are unemployed, that unemployment insurance benefits are there."

Warnock, a pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, is locked in a tight runoff race against Loeffler. The Jan. 5 election is one of two runoffs in Georgia that will determine party control of the U.S. Senate next year.