BaltCo Council hopeful Harden had tax trouble
Democratic Baltimore County Council candidate Gordon Harden acknowledged Tuesday that he didn’t pay state and federal income taxes between 1997 and 2005, troubles that led to heavy government penalties.
Harden said his taxes were about 25 to 30 percent of the $144,000 that he eventually paid. The remaining amount was interest and penalties. Harden said a rough divorce left him in serious financial straits with three children to raise on his own. The news website Lutherville-Timonium Patch reported the troubles, which led to multiple tax liens on his property.
“I didn’t pay taxes so I could pay my kids’ tuition and keep my people working,” said Harden, who owned a Nationwide Insurance agency in Owings Mills before retiring earlier this year. “I thought that financially things would get better but they didn’t for three or four years. It was a horrible time. I never thought it would get so bad.”
Harden, of Towson, said he had limited options.
“I would’ve had to tell my kids that they couldn’t go to college. This was the only way I could get them there,” he said. Two of his three children graduated from college.
Harden said he has put the matter behind him – all taxes were paid off in 2006 – but he would have done it again for his children.
“I didn’t live my life planning to run for office,” he said. “If I’d planned to run for office, I’d have kept myself looking real good and let my kids worry about their own lives.”
He stressed that his personal financial issues never impacted his ability to serve on the Planning Board, where he worked on 13 capital budgets. Harden said it was easy to stick to the county’s conservative fiscal management philosophy given what he was dealing with in his personal life.
“I had to live very fiscally conservative and the person who got hurt most in the whole thing was me,” Harden said. “I had employees, children, rent, expenses. … Everything and the government got paid.”