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New tax troubles for Reps. Talton, Mangham and others
Aug. 13, 2009 — Several Georgia lawmakers have gotten deeper into tax trouble this year, even as legislative ethics panels investigate some members’ failure to pay income taxes, property records show.
Ethics Committees in the House and Senate are reportedly investigating at least three unnamed legislators for filing to file a Georgia income tax return. A new law mandated the inquiries after revenue officials disclosed that as many as 22 legislators had failed to file a return in 2007. (Former Rep. Jeanette Jamieson of Toccoa was indicted last month for income tax evasion.)
Failure to pay other types of taxes also has tripped up legislators who face new liens against their property, records show. The biggest unpaid bill belongs to Rep. Willie Talton of Warner Robins, who owes $39,197 for 2008 city and county property taxes on dozens of parcels in Houston County.
The city of Warner Robins filed more than $9,000 in liens against Talton on March 4. Houston County followed suit May 15 with nearly $30,000 in claims against him. The largest was for $1,516.
Others facing recent liens for unpaid taxes include:
— Rep. Roberta Abdul-Salaam of Riverdale, $14,684 for six years of unpaid state income taxes
— Rep. Randal Mangham of Decatur, $11,337 for three years of property taxes on two homes in southwest Atlanta. (The unpaid 2008 bills are in the names of Culwest Trust LLC and Holwest VI LLC; Mangham acknowledges owning the homes on his latest financial disclosure.)
— Rep. Jill Chambers of DeKalb County, $6,646 for Georgia income tax (Chambers, as can be seen in the comment below, says the state goofed up and tried to ding her for seven quarters of income rather than just one. She says the revenooers backed off and she settled the debt for $133.)
— Sen. Vincent Fort of Atlanta, $3,469 for state income taxes (he says he has now paid this debt)
In 2002, voters amended the Georgia Constitution to say candidates who haven’t paid their taxes may not hold elective office. But, as The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last year, the law can’t be enforced unless a civil court has ruled on the debt. That almost never happens.
Records show other legislators paid off bills, or asked that property records be amended to reflect earlier payments, shortly after news reports in late February on lawmakers’ unpaid taxes:
— Rep. Winfred Dukes of Albany paid off an $828 state income tax lien on March 19.
— Rep. Pedro Marin of Duluth was recorded on March 24 as satisying a $1,360 income tax debt (a handwritten note on the cancellation said the money had actually been paid a year earlier).
— Rep. Joe Heckstall of East Point paid a $31 tax bill last year, but Fulton County property records did not note the payment until July 8.
As previously reported, several legislators also paid overdue tax bills in March after Atlanta Unfiltered asked about them. Reps. Sharon Cooper and Sen. Tommie Williams said they were unaware of the debts, while Rep. Bobby Reese said he had been disputing his bill.