Ackerman owes IRS, has been paying, lawyer says

Posted: April 13, 2011

Philadelphia schools chief Arlene C. Ackerman owes the IRS more than $20,000 in back taxes, public records show.

Ackerman's personal tax attorney acknowledged the superintendent owes money, but said she had started paying the IRS while it determines "proper taxes due."

Michael Gillen, director of the tax accounting group of Duane Morris L.L.P., said the lien was "standard operating procedure."

"We were aware of the IRS obligation, which arose out of a change in tax reporting by the San Francisco School District a number of years ago. We came to an agreement with the IRS quite some time ago. We are working with the IRS to determine the proper taxes due," wrote Gillen, who works for the same law firm as Robert L. Archie Jr., chairman of the School Reform Commission.

"As proper payment of tax was critically important to Dr. Ackerman, last year and well before the filing of the lien, Dr. Ackerman voluntarily began making monthly payments to the IRS," Gillen wrote. "This matter has been resolved and Dr. Ackerman continues to remain in full compliance with the IRS."

The news was first reported by Fox29.

The superintendent is paid $348,000 in salary annually, plus perks including performance bonuses, a car, and contributions to a retirement fund.

Pennsylvania also filed a tax lien against Ackerman in September.

At the time, a district spokesman said the lien arose over an $85 fee related to Ackerman's state income taxes and a notice mistakenly sent to an old address.

Ackerman had underpaid her state taxes in April 2009, said Fernando Gallard, the spokesman, and paid the remaining balance last July.

Ackerman "was not aware that the Pennsylvania Revenue Department had placed a lien against her in September until notified by The Inquirer," Gallard said last year. "This is because the state had mailed the notice to Dr. Ackerman's previous address."

She paid the fine the day she became aware of it, Gallard said at the time. The lien was then satisfied, records show.

Ackerman is superintendent and chief executive officer of the district, which has a budget of $3.2 billion. The district faces a $629 million budget gap for its next fiscal year.

Contact staff writer Kristen Graham at 215-854-5146 or

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