NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)The Rev. Al Sharpton on Wednesday disputed a report saying he and his businesses owe $4.5 million in taxes.

“The story is, at best, misleading,” Sharpton said.

Sharpton accused The New York Times of trying to mislead the public on issues he says have long been addressed and resolved, WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported.

“There is not one dime — no, not one red penny — of current taxes owed by National Action Network or by me,” Sharpton said during a news conference at NAN headquarters in Harlem.

The civil-rights leaders said both he and his organization have kept up with an IRS payment plan, reducing a $4.5 million tax obligation to $800,000.

Sharpton said while he and the network have complied with the payment plan laid out by the feds, they are trying to negotiate lower penalties. So far they have been denied.

He said that if the penalties were lessened he and the National Action Network could write out a check today to pay off all they owe.

According to the Times report, his balance with the state has increased in recent years and his National Action Network has remained afloat by not paying federal payroll taxes on its employees.

While traveling first class and collecting a sizable salary, Sharpton and his organization have also failed to pay travel agencies, hotels and landlords, the Times reported.

“For individuals that show a substantial amount of money, they should live a certain lifestyle, the IRS has no sympathy for them,” John Lieberman, CPA, explained.

Sharpton called the renewed scrutiny on his finances political, saying people don’t like the fact that there is a black president and progressive mayor in power.

“I also think the politics of it is very interesting,” he said.

Sharpton has been at the forefront of protests over police-involved killings in Ferguson, Missouri, and on Staten Island. He said he’s on high alert for the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown case in Ferguson and is planning vigils in 25 cities.

As CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, the Times responded to Sharpton’s remarks on Wednesday, and said “we stand by our story.”

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