Tax scofflaw’s Old Snowmass property to be auctioned off by IRS
A U.S. judge has ordered the foreclosure sale of an Old Snowmass property after finding that its owner failed to pay more than $400,000 in federal income taxes.
The mostly undeveloped land at 562 Gateway Road will go to auction in the coming months following the December judgment issued by U.S. District Court Judge Philip Brimmer of Denver.
Brimmer’s ruling came after the U.S. Department of Justice filed a complaint in July 2015 against Martin Draper and the entity that technically owns the 1.1-acre piece of land, 562 Gateway Road LLC, in Denver federal court. Draper bought the property in January 2000.
Draper could not be reached for comment, and his attorney, Richard Neiley Jr., did not respond to a message seeking comment this week.
Draper, in fact, was not served with the complaint because authorities, including the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office on at least eight occasions, could not locate him. Draper also refused to accept service on the complaint when he was contacted by a U.S. attorney in October 2015, authorities alleged in court documents.
Pitkin County Assistant Attorney Laura Makar, who was involved in the case because Draper also owes the county property taxes on the land, said he did not appear at any of the court hearings in person or by telephone.
The suit accused Draper of fraudulently transferring property to the LLC, which he created himself in 2008, for $10 in April 2009. Draper changed the ownership, the federal government contended, to stave off efforts by the IRS to foreclose on his property because of his nonpayment of $392,590 in income taxes to the IRS from 2002 to 2008. The IRS also filed multiple liens on the property.
As of May, that figure stood at $405,065, along with other costs.
Pitkin County also has a lien on the property for Draper’s failure to pay property taxes in the amount of $67,014, including $15,918 in other fees.
The IRS will take top priority on collecting proceeds from the sale, with Pitkin County second in line, according to the judge’s order. Makar said it’s unlikely the county will place a bid on the property because it sits outside of the Urban Growth Boundary.
The Pitkin County Assessor’s Office gives the property an actual value of $300,900. The land is located in the Gateway of Snowmass Mesa subdivision, where some homes have been given seven-figure appraisals by the Assessor’s Office.
Gary Chambers, whose title is property appraisal and liquidation specialist, said from his Seattle office Tuesday that he plans to take a site visit of the land in the coming weeks. While a starting bid and auction date have yet to be determined, he said he expects the auction to take place within the next few months.
“We usually come in around 40 percent of the fair-market value in the opening bid,” he said.
Bids will be accepted by mail, and a live auction could be held at either the property site or the Pitkin County Courthouse, he said.
The court order instructs Draper to “not commit waste against the real property, not cause or permit anyone else to do so. He shall not do anything that tends to reduce the value or marketability of the real property, nor cause anyone else do so.”
U.S. Attorney E. Carmen Ramirez, who handled the litigation on behalf of the Department of Justice, declined comment.
“The Justice Department declines to comment on the order and beyond the government’s complaint,” said Nicole A. Navas, spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Justice, in an email to The Aspen Times.
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