Fresno · Politics

State hits TJ Cox with lien over $30k in back taxes

With Tax Day looming – albeit delayed due to coronavirus – Rep. TJ Cox’s (D–Fresno) financial woes are once again about to be complicated at the hands of a government taxing agency.

Last Wednesday, the California Franchise Tax Board – the state’s income tax agency – issued a lien against Cox and his wife, Kathleen Murphy, over an unpaid $30,482 state income tax bill from 2017.

It’s the second tax lien assessed against Cox in the past three months. In January, the Internal Revenue Service levied a lien against Cox and Murphy for unpaid taxes in 2017 and 2018 totalling approximately $145,000.

Last week, Cox voted against a bill that would require he disclose unpaid taxes and wage garnishments by taxing agencies.

2020 is not the first time the freshman Democratic Congressman has had a brush with Uncle Sam.

Cox was subject to an IRS lien for $48,000 in unpaid taxes for the tax year 2015. The lien was lifted in 2017 following payment.

Blaming “bureaucratic incompetence” in the midst of his 2018 campaign, Cox told The Mercury News that the check to pay his 2015 taxes was “stuck on the back of somebody else’s payment.”

Cox’s campaign said he is working on repaying the taxes, and that the actions of a former business partner had caused his failing to pay state taxes as well as federal taxes.

“TJ Cox is in the process of paying his bill in full, but more importantly, he remains laser-focused on keeping the Valley safe in the face of the largest national emergency of our lifetimes,” the campaign said in a statement provided to McClatchy. “When a former business partner amended their 2016 federal filing in 2019, that altered Rep. Cox’s tax responsibilities, both federal and state.”

Cox’s current state and federal back tax liability – more than $175,000 – exceeds the Congressman’s annual salary in the House of Representatives.

Alex Tavlian is the Executive Editor of The San Joaquin Valley Sun and Executive Director of Valley Future Foundation. You can reach Alex at