Ballinger: Not aware of tax lien
By Scott Loftis
State Rep. Bob Ballinger of Berryville said Wednesday that he was not aware that the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration had filed a lien against him and his wife, Jessica, for unpaid state income tax.
“I have no knowledge of it at all,” said Ballinger, who was elected to the District 5 seat in the State Senate in November and will take office in that position Jan. 14.
Ballinger said he and his wife had been making payments on their state tax debt.
“From our understanding, there wasn’t supposed to be a lien at all,” he said. “We’ll have to find out what’s going on with that.”
The Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) issued a certificate of indebtedness on Nov. 13. According to that document, the Ballingers owe $1,732.09 for the tax period ending Dec. 31, 2017.
Scott Hardin, a DFA spokesman, said in an email that the department cannot comment beyond confirming the existence of the lien because of privacy laws. Hardin said DFA can confirm if the lien is released.
DFA records indicate that Ballinger’s annual salary as a state representative is $41,393.52. According to an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette story in February 2018, Ballinger received $28,450 in per diem, mileage and expense reimbursements in 2017. The per diem paid to legislators who live more than 50 miles from the state Capitol was $153 per day from Jan. 1, 2017, to Sept. 30, 2017. On Oct. 1, 2017, it increased to $155 per day. Legislators were paid a mileage rate of 53.5 cents per mile in 2017, and that rate increased to 54.5 cents per mile in 2018.
Ballinger filed a Statement of Financial Interest for the year 2016 on Dec. 5, 2018. The statement lists Ballinger’s employers for 2016 as the Arkansas House of Representatives and the Story Law Firm, based in Fayetteville. The statement indicates that Ballinger was paid more than $12,500 by both entities in 2016. Also on the statement, Ballinger writes “my spouse works hard but has no income, and I have no income from invetments [sic].”
Ballinger is among eight attorneys listed on the Story Law Firm website.
Ballinger has had financial difficulties in the past. His former home in Hindsville was the subject of multiple foreclosure proceedings initiated by JP Morgan Chase Bank, beginning in early 2013. The bank took over the deed in January 2017 and sold the home to another individual three months later.