Saturday, October 5, 2002
Charlotte, N.C. It's been years since they left the national spotlight, but televangelism's best-known couple ï¿½ Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye Messner ï¿½ are still being hounded for $3 million in back taxes.
The Internal Revenue Service says Bakker and Messner owe personal income taxes from the 1980s when they were building their Praise The Lord empire, The Charlotte Observer reported Friday.
Their Fort Mill, S.C., theme park and retreat ï¿½ Heritage USA ï¿½ drew 6 million visitors at its 1986 peak. But the ministry collapsed after revelations of Jim Bakker's sexual encounter with a former church secretary. Bakker later went to prison for bilking followers out of $158 million.
Usually, the IRS has 10 years to collect taxes, but recent court filings show the agency continues dunning Bakker and Messner for taxes, some more than 20 years old.
The IRS assessed the taxes after revoking the PTL ministry's nonprofit status, said Roe Messner, a former Kansan and Tammy Faye's husband since 1993.
For more than 15 years, the IRS has been trying to collect taxes it says the Bakkers owed from 1981 through 1986.
Roe Messner said the original tax amount was about $500,000. Penalties and interest account for the rest of the bill.