Melissa Harris-Perry

Melissa Harris-Perry, political science professor at Wake Forest University, has been appointed executive director of the university's Pro Humanitate Institute.

The Internal Revenue Service has placed a tax lien on Melissa Harris-Perry and her husband, James Perry, for about $70,000 in delinquent taxes, according to a notice filed in Forsyth County Hall of Justice earlier this month.

Harris-Perry is a well-known host of an MSNBC talk show and a professor at Wake Forest University. The IRS filed the notice April 6.

In an email Wednesday, Harris-Perry said she was unaware of the tax lien but knew about the debt. She said she and her husband paid $21,721 of the debt when they filed their taxes Wednesday. The remaining debt, $48,581, covers a tax period ending Dec. 31, 2013, according to the notice.

Harris-Perry said she and her husband had been working to pay off the debt but had to deal with a series of personal crises that caused the couple to pay off the debt a lot slower than expected.

“We were aware that we would continue to need to work to pay off the 2013 debt,” she said in the email.

Harris-Perry said the couple had an official payment plan with the IRS. She said she had not had any recent conversations with the IRS and doubted that she could reach the IRS Wednesday, the deadline for millions of Americans to file their income tax returns.

Harris-Perry is a Wake Forest graduate who returned to her alma mater last year as a Presidential Chair, an endowed position at Wake Forest. She is a faculty member in the school’s Department of Politics and International Affairs.

She is also the founding director of the Anna Julia Cooper Project on Gender, Race and Politics in the South, a research initiative she started at Tulane, where she previously taught. The project, named for Anna Julia Cooper, a black feminist, scholar, educator and social activist, is now at Wake Forest University.

Harris-Perry said in her email that she and her husband plan to pay off the rest of their tax debt as quickly as possible.

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