Ranchers Cody and Debby Easterday owe the IRS more than $12.5 million in taxes
The federal government has asserted a $12.5 million dollar lien against Cody Easterday and his wife Debby for personal taxes – or $12,550,711.74 exactly.
That’s according to a federal lien filed in Franklin County, Washington on Wednesday morning.
Cody Easterday is currently serving 11 years in a federal prison in California for swindling Tyson Fresh Meats and a King County-based company called Segale out of more than $244 million dollars of cattle.
The Easterday “Ghost Herd” saga unfolded over a couple of years and involved some of the largest American farmers – like Bill Gates and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – who battled over massive hunks of water-rich Easterday farm ground flanking the Columbia River.
The $12.5 million dollar lien means it goes against anything the Cody and Debby Easterday own: property, houses or vehicles and even future earnings.
The document says the lien is from taxes owed in 2021. That’s also when two of the couple’s businesses – Easterday Farms and Easterday Ranches – went into federal bankruptcy. That is also the same year the couple's businesses sold a massive feedlot north of Pasco called the “North Lot” for $10 million and another set of farms in Benton County for about $210 million dollars.
According to IRS documents, the federal lien establishes the government’s right to money from the couple before other subsequent creditors that might file claims. The federal government can seize property 30 days after it sends a “Notice of Intent to Levy” and informs the couple of their right to a hearing.
“If you don’t pay your overdue taxes, make other arrangements to satisfy the tax debt, or request a hearing within 30 days of the date of this notice, we may seize your property,” an IRS collection process document said.
The Easterday Farms and Easterday Ranches bankruptcies dealt with major Benton County farms and the Cox feedlot – none of the proceeds went to Cody Easterday. Where these additional taxes came from is uncertain but the Easterdays have other assets that were never brought into the bankruptcy. Those include Easterdays’ produce company and giant produce sheds in Franklin County.
Some of the Easterday children own a troubled mega-dairy near Boardman, Oregon and are actively farming potatoes, onions and other crops throughout the Columbia Basin under the name Triple E Farms.
Cody and Debby Easterday’s lawyer Jeffrey Misley of Portland, Oregon, said in an emailed statement: “The tax obligations and liabilities arise out of the sale of all assets that occurred as part of the bankruptcy process and under the plan approved by the United States Bankruptcy Court. Substantially all of Cody and Debby Easterdays’ assets were contributed and liquidated in order to pay the claims of creditors. There were no distribution of monies made to the Easterdays, and there were no reserves for the payment of taxes. Debby Easterday is in communication with the taxing agencies and will be working with them to resolve any remaining issues.”