Another dust-up in North Bergen mayoral race

Opponents question Wainstein's taxes and residency

Opponents of mayoral candidate Larry Wainstein claim he owes back taxes.
Opponents of mayoral candidate Larry Wainstein claim he owes back taxes.

Members of Mayor Nicholas Sacco’s re-election campaign recently claimed that Sacco’s opponent, Larry Wainstein, owed more than $107,000 in combined federal and state back taxes, and that the IRS filed a tax lien against Laundry Pros, Inc., a business Wainstein owns.

Wainstein’s camp dismissed the charges, attributing the liens to a clerical issue that had to do with filing taxes on paper, rather than electronically.

Members of Sacco’s campaign publicly released federal and state liens against Wainstein, which indicated that a laundromat he owns, Laundry Pros, Inc., allegedly owed $101,787 to the federal government in back taxes that were due in 2015 and 2016.

The lien indicated that the bulk of the money came from IRS 941 forms. Form 941, which pertains to a business’s employees’ tax returns, includes amounts withheld from employees for the additional Medicare tax.

Sacco campaign spokespersons denounced Wainstein after digging up the liens that were filed against him.

“Lying Larry Wainstein is a very wealthy man who chooses not to pay his taxes, even though he can easily afford to,” spokesperson Wendy Martinez said. “He is a liar, a cheat, and a conman who hides his assets behind dummy corporations and highly questionable financial maneuvering. Wainstein is the last person anyone in North Bergen should trust or believe about anything.”

Wainstein: lien should clear up soon

Shortly after the press reported on accusations from Sacco’s campaign, news outlets reportedly received cease-and-desist letters from Mario Blanch, Wainstein’s attorney. In those letters, he accused reporters of attempting to defame Wainstein in the midst of the election with “bold face inaccuracies.”

Wainstein’s spokesman, Hank Sheinkopf, went on record a number of times to dismiss the claims that Wainstein allegedly owed more than $107,000 in back taxes. He called the lien a result of a “clerical issue,” based on new filing requirements for federal taxes.

According to IRS instructions, form 941 has to be filed electronically, but Sheinkopf said that some issues came up related to the IRS’s transition from paper to electronic filing requirements. He said that IRS employees contacted Wainstein to let him know that it was a common problem.

Sheinkopf said that “all taxes were paid” and “the lien will be vacated soon.”

The IRS can file a tax lien against a business owner, even if that business owner has an agreement in place to pay his or her taxes; for example, if the agreement was filed improperly as a result of a business owner filing taxes in a way that doesn’t adhere to newer IRS requirements.

Meanwhile, Sacco’s campaign reiterated a longtime criticism of Wainstien. They accused him of not living in North Bergen, since he also owns a home in Franklin Lakes. They claimed that “he has never lived in the home [in North Bergen] and still resides in Franklin Lakes with his family in a mansion worth nearly $3 million.”

Franklin Lakes is located in the western section of Bergen County.

This claim has surfaced in each of Wainstein’s mayoral runs. New Jersey state law has relatively straightforward residency requirements for candidates, which include how consistently candidates must live in the towns they serve.

When a candidate’s residency is challenged, it’s up to a court to decide whether a candidate satisfies the residency requirement. While candidates can own more than one residence, they’re required to live full-time in the town in which they’re campaigning.

No court has yet disqualified Wainstein as a candidate due to residency requirements in any of his runs for office.

“Larry lives in North Bergen,” Sheinkopf said in a written statement. “If he didn’t, he wouldn’t be able to run for office.”

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