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November 28. 2012 10:07PM

Fuller faces additional tax lien

MANCHESTER - The Internal Revenue Service has posted another tax lien against the owner of Fred Fuller Oil and Propane Co., one of the largest fuel delivery companies in the state.

The $91,477 lien, filed on Nov. 15 with the Hillsborough County Registry of Deeds, is for the tax year ending in 2009, and comes after liens in July for tax years 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Even though the liens are on the personal income of Frederick J. Fuller of Manchester, and not against the oil company, the state consumer affairs division is seeking assurances that the latest IRS action will not affect delivery on pre-paid oil contracts. Fuller is president of the company, with headquarters in Hudson and offices in seven other New Hampshire communities.

Fuller's problems with the IRS go back to 2010, when the agency filed a lien for unpaid taxes due for the tax year 2004. The IRS now claims Fuller owes unpaid income taxes for every year from 2004 to 2009, with the exception of 2005, for a total of $2.8 million.

Despite past assurances that his personal tax problems won't affect oil delivery by the Fuller company, customers have called the state's consumer affairs division with concerns.

"We're contacting his lawyer to help us clarify the situation," said Jim Boffetti, head of the consumer division in the Attorney General's Office.

When news of the 2006 through 2008 tax liens broke in August, Fuller met with state officials in a session Boffetti described at the time as "reassuring."

"It appears that Mr. Fuller has the resources to pay off these liens and to resolve his tax issues," Boffetti said at the time. Fuller told the New Hampshire Union Leader in August that he expected the liens to be resolved soon. He told state officials he was holding 400,000 gallons of heating oil in storage, enough to meet about half of his pre-paid contracts. Despite those assurances, Boffetti is still getting calls.

"I'm telling them what we knew in August," he said. "At that time, they were able to provide us with financial statements that showed he had sufficient assets. And I wasn't aware of the circumstances changing since then. That was before we heard about this additional lien."

Fuller's attorney, Simon C. Leeming of the Preti Flaherty law firm in Portland, Maine, said the liens have no connection to the oil business.

"This is a personal matter and for the Union Leader or anyone else to make it into a business matter is not appropriate," he said, declining to comment on whether the liens were any closer to resolution.

In a posting on the company website in August, Fuller acknowledged customer inquiries regarding pre-buy contracts and budget plans after the first round of liens was made public.

"We will be, as always, standing by our pre-buy and budget customers," he wrote. "The contracts that you have committed to for the upcoming heating season will be fully honored."

With the heating season under way, Boffetti said his office has not received any complaints about delivery on pre-paid contracts from customers of any dealer.

"We've had absolutely no complaints that I know of this heating season from any customer having problems not getting their oil," he said.

The federal tax filing lists property at 1345 Union St., Manchester, and states that "all property and rights to property" belonging to Fuller are subject to the lien.

Fred Fuller Oil and Propane, with offices in Bridgewater, Derry, Goffstown, Hudson, Laconia, Milford, Moultonborough and Northfield, serves a large territory extending across central and southern New Hampshire and into northern Massachusetts.

dsolomon@unionleader.com



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