Guam Memorial Hospital owes $5.6 million in withholding taxes from prior years.

“I am shocked and appalled by this revelation,” said Sen. Therese Terlaje, chairwoman of the legislative committee on health.

Terlaje said she has scheduled an oversight hearing from 2-4 p.m. on Oct. 3 to discuss the status of GMHA critical capital improvement projects and issues with the elevators and staffing, “and will be sure to examine the nonpayment of withholding taxes and how soon they will resolve this debt.”

“The governor is authorized to take swift action to address this very urgent matter by using her transfer authority, and making immediate payments of amounts owed by the Department of Corrections to GMHA for services pursuant to the District Court consent decree,” Terlaje said.

GMH Chief Executive Officer Lillian Perez-Posadas on Tuesday confirmed she received a letter from the Department of Revenue and Taxation saying that the hospital owed withholding taxes “for prior years but we’re current from January 2019 to present.”

Terlaje said she has held “numerous status hearings, meetings with regard to the budget, and have kept in constant communication with the GMHA administration on the various challenges our public hospital is facing.”

“At no point has this debt ever been disclosed to me, until today,” she stated in a written response to The Guam Daily Post on Tuesday.

Employers may be subject to criminal and civil sanctions for willfully failing to pay employment taxes, according to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Guam's tax system mirrors the IRS'.

GMH and certain other agencies strapped for cash have previously paid GovGuam "net payroll" which means other items deducted from employees' paychecks including income tax and retirement fund contributions were withheld – until money becomes available.

For a few days recently, GMH canceled visiting hours to ensure that the one working elevator was used for patients and patient services. At one point, all four of the elevators were broken. Additionally, on Sept. 9, the electronic health record system was not working for nearly a day because a component broke.

Recommended for you