House Hopeful Owes the IRS More Than $600,000

Former Real World star Kevin Powell is challenging incumbent Rep. Ed Towns in the primary.

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WASHINGTON - MTV "Real World" alum Kevin Powell may be climbing a big hill in his bid for Congress, but he's got a bigger mountain with the IRS - a mountain of debt.

According to Powell's belatedly filed financial disclosure, he owes the tax man at least $615,000, and could owe up to $1.3 million.

Powell, who made a splash in the "Real World" first season, is taking on veteran Rep. Ed Towns (D-Brooklyn) in the primary. [See who donates the most money to Towns.]

He failed to file financial disclosure forms required of candidates with House ethics officials in his first run in 2008.

This year, his forms were received nearly three months late, at 11:09 a.m. Wednesday, a day after the Daily News asked why they were missing. He insisted he filed them weeks ago.

Powell said his tax problems were not because he tried to beat the IRS or city tax collectors, but a result of long-running financial illiteracy, bad advice, bad luck, generous habits and an expensive subprime mortgage.

"Kevin Powell has not had a job since 1996," said Powell, who earns his living writing and giving speeches. "The situation is, I had an accountant back in the day, and I trusted that person to handle my situation, and it wasn't done properly."

According to his disclosure, Powell earned just over $300,000 in the past 18 months. That did not make him wealthy, he said.

"I've also had a lot of bills to pay over the years. You have to also make sure you take care of yourself, your family, a lot of people."

He said he is paying down his tax debt, and suggested his troubles make him a better candidate. "I'm like a lot of people in my community," he said. "We get in financial trouble. Just because someone is smart in one area, it doesn't mean they are financially literate."

Hank Sheinkopf, a spokesman for Towns, cracked, "After he loses, it's obvious that Powell won't be talking about personal money management" in his speaking tours.