State Rep. Darryl Rouson hit with $155,000 tax lien

October 2, 2013 

State Rep. Darryl Rouson and his wife failed to pay more than $155,000 in federal income taxes from 2008 through 2010, according to a lien filed by the Internal Revenue Service.

In one of those years, Rouson, a St. Petersburg attorney whose House district includes parts of Manatee and Sarasota counties, made $565,000 working for the powerhouse law firm of Morgan & Morgan.

The IRS lien is the latest setback for Rouson, who recently came under fire from fellow House Democrats for creating a party-related fundraising committee only he could control. His colleagues ousted him as incoming Democratic leader on Sept. 23, the day before the IRS filed its lien in Pinellas County circuit court.

“I don’t take this lightly,’’ Rouson said Tuesday. “I am working with my CPA and my tax attorney, and I’m very optimistic this will all get resolved.

“It’s been a tough summer,’’ he added.

The lien shows that Rouson and wife Angela, a board member of the Juvenile Welfare Board and Pinellas County Housing Authority, owe the IRS a total of $157,841 for 2008, 2009 and 2010. Rouson earned $565,000 at Morgan & Morgan in 2010, according to a required financial disclosure statement.

Employers typically withhold a portion of salary to cover federal income taxes. Rouson would not say whether taxes were withheld from his pay. His former boss, John Morgan, did not return a call seeking comment.

Morgan, a leading Democratic booster and fundraiser, hired Rouson after he was elected to the House in 2008. But Rouson, a self-described onetime crack addict, lost the job last spring after opposing Morgan’s drive to legalize medical marijuana in Florida.

Morgan also complained that Rouson was spending too much time on legislative matters.

Rouson, 58, has a history of financial problems going back more than a decade when he declared bankruptcy while owing $360,000 to the IRS. He was still in bankruptcy proceedings when he and his wife borrowed money to build a 4,400-square-foot St. Petersburg home.

Rouson’s most recent financial disclosure statement, filed in July for the year 2012, showed him with a negative net worth of $78,824. Among his liabilities: mortgages totalling nearly $600,000 on his home and a condominium in Tallahassee.

As the Tampa Bay Times reported in June, Rouson missed three years of property tax payments on the Tallahassee condo, falling so far behind that the unit was about to be put up for auction. He said it “was just an oversight’’ and paid the taxes shortly after the story appeared.

Rouson recently reopened his St. Petersburg law practice, which he said is growing.

“My income saw a large decrease after leaving my former firm, and I am redirecting my focus and priorities,’’ he said. “God has a way of doing that and giving us challenges that make us better people.’’

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