WASHINGTON -- Geraldine Ferraro and her husband will pay $53,459 in back taxes and penalties discovered in a review of their 1978 tax bill, it was announced today, and accountants are checking five more tax returns to see if they owe more.
The Democratic vice presidential candidate remained in her Queens home with her husband, John Zaccaro, and her campaign advisers as the announcement was made in Washington by a spokesman. She had no immediate comment.
The disclosure could further damage the Democratic ticket as Ms. Ferraro, a three-term House member from New York City, has been dogged about her finances since being tapped last month by Walter Mondale as his running mate.
Her nomination as the first woman vice presidential candidate of a major political party has been overshadowed in the past two weeks by questions about her finances.
Ms. Ferraro originally said she would disclose her tax returns and finances as well as her husband's, but later reversed herself and said her husband did not want his tax returns made public. Zaccaro, a real estate businessman, relented last week and said he would allow her to reveal his returns.
On Sunday, Ms. Ferraro told reporters Americans would be satisfied she and her husband pay their fair share of income taxes when the couple's financial status was revealed today.
The tax documents released to reporters showed Ms. Ferraro had a gross income of $332,474 from 1979 through 1983 on which she paid $130,922 in federal, state and city income taxes.
Of the total taxes paid, $94,318 was in federal tax.
Zaccaro reported a gross income of $533,969 during that period on which he paid $220,344 in federal, state and city income taxes. Of the total taxes paid, $149,495 was in federal taxes.
The tax documents showed that Ms. Ferraro's reported income ranged from a low of $56,228 in 1979 to a high of $71,015 in 1981.
Zaccaro's gross income ranged from $41,060 in 1981 to $203,039 in 1983.
The spokesman told reporters that accountants were still scrutinizing the tax returns filed by Ms. Ferraro and her husband for the years 1979 through 1983 and raised the possibility that overlooked tax debts might still be discovered.
The last year the couple filed a joint tax return in 1978 the review by the accountants disclosed a shortfall of $29,709 in taxes.
Since then $23,750 in interest due has accumulated. Both sums will be paid when an amended 1978 joint return is filed.
The taxes overlooked where those due on the profits from the sale of property Zaccaro owned in lower Manhattan.
The 1978 return showed gross income for the couple of $172,731.
The motel dining room used by the Ferraro staff was packed with 180 reporters and broadcast technicians. After a dispute over the accountants insistance that they would not appear on camara, a campaign spokesman, Francis O'Brien, agreed to appear in their stead to discuss thereturns.
Following his appearance the briefing ended and the tax returns were released in a crush of confusion because not enough copies were available for the reporters.Mondale sources said the Democratic presidential nominee would not ask Ms. Ferraro to drop out of the presidential race if the briefing fails to stem controversy over her finances.
Ms. Ferraro has been infuriated by speculation that her husband was reluctant to release his returns because he may have paid little or no taxes. He relented and agreed to release his tax forms back to 1979 to put an end to 'outrageous conclusions,' she said.
'He made the decision himself,' Ms. Ferraro said. 'He said 'Gerry, I'm not going to hurt you, and I'm going to release them,' so I said fine.'
The refusal to release the returns raised a furor that plagued Ms. Ferraro and Walter Mondale on the campaign trail all week. She said she cannot even walk past a reporter without being grilled about family finances.
Republicans seized upon the issue as a chink in the female candidate's armor and even Mondale admitted 'it's regrettable that we had to take the whole week' explaining the resistance to disclosure.
Ms. Ferraro has never detailed her husband's financial holdings, claiming on congressional disclosure forms she was entitled to an exemption because she had no knowledge and derived no benefit from Zaccaro's real estate business. But she is a stockholder and an officer in one of her husband's corporations.
She said in an appearance on ABC's 'This Week with David Brinkley' she will put to rest all questions in a news conference on Tuesday. Neither she nor her husband will attend the briefing by accountants in Washington today.
The three-term New York congresswoman bristled at reports that Zaccaro has links to organized crime and she apologized for joking about the tribulations of being married to an Italian man.