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House Owned by Willie Nelson Sold for Taxes

January 5, 1991 GMT

YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) _ For all the taxes he’s owed before, a house owned by country singer Willie Nelson was auctioned Friday by the Internal Revenue Service for $50,500 - just a fraction of his overdue bill.

A crowd of more than 50 people gathered in the lobby of a downtown office building for the bidding.

The house was valued at $72,000. Bidding started at $28,500 and ended at $50,500. The buyer wouldn’t identify himself, and neither would the IRS until the deal becomes final.

The money won’t go far to retire Nelson’s $16.7 million tax bill. Nelson failed to pay taxes from 1975 to 1982, except for 1979. In November, the IRS seized properties owned by Nelson in Texas, Washington, Colorado and Alabama.

Nelson, 57, who never lived in the three-bedroom house, has blamed his tax problems on past managers.

Efforts by fans to help settle the debt have fallen short. Less than $2,000 was generated by fundraisers, called ″Willie Aid″ to recall Nelson’s Farm Aid concerts on behalf of struggling farmers.

The auction was the first of Nelson property, said an IRS spokeswoman in Texas. Nelson is a resident of Texas and agency officials there are handling his case.

Not all the bidders at the auction were interested in the home’s owner.

Percy and Esther Surgeon were attracted by the chance to buy a home cheaply. Surgeon said he wasn’t a fan of Nelson’s music.

″We were just looking for a home and this was a good deal,″ Mrs. Surgeon said.

Nelson bought the home in suburban Gleed for his mother, Myrle Harvey, in 1976. She lived there until she died in 1983.

A telephone message left with Nelson’s manager, Mark Rothbaum of Danbury, Conn., was not returned.

In addition to the auction price, the buyer of the house assumes the $18,000 still owed on the 1,600-square foot house, Booher said. The rambler also has two acres of land.

Nelson’s hits include ″On the Road Again,″ ″Blue Skies,″ and ″For All the Girls I’ve Loved Before.″