A West Des Moines company that provides personnel services was hit with a nearly $1.2 million federal tax lien Friday for failing to pay withholding taxes.
The filing is the most recent effort by the Internal Revenue Service to collect almost $3.8 million taxes and penalties from companies related to InFocus Partners, 5950 Grand Ave., and its owner, John Vratsinas.
InFocus is the business name of ICL Staffing Inc. Their parent is Iowa Construction Logistics Inc.
Iowa Construction Logistics was launched in January 2001 to provide workers to the construction industry.
A client that accounted for at least 50 percent of its business was John Vratsinas Commercial Builders Inc., which was organized by its namesake in October 2000, according to Polk County court documents.
The construction company filed to reorganize its finances under federal bankruptcy laws in 2009. However, the case was dismissed a few months later, after a bankruptcy trustee said the company should be liquidated.
Vratsinas is accused in a Polk County lawsuit of self-dealing by transferring funds between the construction company and the InFocus human resources company. A judge's ruling is pending after a two-day bench trial last month.
The federal liens relate to taxes due between 2006 and this year. On Friday, the Internal Revenue Service said InFocus Partners owed withholding taxes that should have been paid for tax periods that ended March 31 and June 30 of this year.
Christopher James, who is representing Vratsinas and his companies in the tax cases, said the current lien is related to an administrative mistake and that the taxes will be paid in the next week and a half.
"That will resolve what is generating the latest controversy," he said.
Iowa Construction Logistics owes $619,155 for withholding taxes that should have been paid between March 2006 and March 2009.
In addition, the Internal Revenue Service has filed a nearly $2 million lien against Vratsinas under what is called a "responsible person" penalty. The penalties are assessed against people who are required to collect, administer and pay withholding taxes but "willfully" fail to do so.
Those taxes were due between September 2008 and March 2011
Tax problems dating to 2006 are largely a result of a downturn in the construction industry, James said.
Vratsinas and his companies are "working on" payment plans to resolve those liens, he said.
In 2010, Iowa Construction Logistics paid $40,179 in tax liens. Those liens have been released.
InFocus has retained "virtyually all" of the customers whose tax obligations were to have been paid by the company, James said.