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IRS liens stump Stavros

AMHERST — Leaders of the Stavros Center for Independent Living say more than $5 million in federal tax liens filed by the Internal Revenue Service are suspected processing errors and not a result of unpaid taxes at the Amherst nonprofit.

The liens, filed Monday at the Hampshire District Registry of Deeds, include $5.4 million for unemployment taxes and another $29,794 in other income tax withholdings. They date back to 2010 and 2011.

“There is nothing underpaid,” Seren Devin, Stavros’ chief financial officer, said Monday. “It really is a big error.”

Devin said Stavros works with PayChoice to process its payroll for personal care attendants who work with the agency’s clients. Devin said PayChoice typically processes more than $3.5 million in payroll weekly.

She said PayChoice has assured Stavros that it is working with the IRS to figure out why the liens were filed against the nonprofit group, at 210 Old Farm Road.

“We’re seeing all these things (liens) but it just doesn’t make any sense,” said James Kruidenier, executive director of Stavros. “We’re still trying to figure all this out because we weren’t aware of any intent to file a lien.”

“It’s a very frustrating situation,” he added.

The personal care attendants associated with the tax liens work through Stavros’ Fiscal Intermediary Services program, which allows disabled and elder individuals to receive assistance in their homes through “prompt and accurate payment of home care workers,” according to the organization’s website. The agency also employs about 150 people and operates on an approximately $9 million annual budget.

Founded in 1974 as an independent living center by a group of individuals with spinal-cord injuries, Stavros has evolved over the past 40 years and today provides programs designed to help persons with disabilities live independently in western Massachusetts.

The agency began administering personal care attendant services in the four western counties of Massachusetts in 1984 and has offices in Amherst, Greenfield and Springfield.

Kruidenier described the filing of the federal tax liens as “unfortunate” because the agency works hard to ensure its operations run smoothly, including payroll.

“We’re still working through this ourselves,” he said.

Dan Crowley can be reached at dcrowley@gazettenet.com.

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