Thursday, September 23, 2010

That's Our Nikki: She Has A Tax Problem

Everyone who runs for office has a tax plan. No new taxes, is a good one. But then there are gas taxes, liquor taxes. Nikki Haley even wants to tax groceries more heavily. But that isn't why I want to talk about Nikki Haley and taxes. No, it's not about taxing more, it's about paying your taxes.

And not paying taxes.

Now, normally, this is no one's business, because income tax records are private, and the IRS and state Revenue Department give people a lot longer to file and pay their taxes before they take public action to collect. But then we found out, from Republican Senator Greg Ryberg, that twelve members of the South Carolina House of Representatives had failed to file an income tax return at least once in the past decade. Ryberg introduced a bill to track down draft dodgers, and was disgusted that some of them sat near him in the House chambers.

Awful, right, though, there wasn't much anyone could do except agree, because we had no way of knowing who the tax scofflaws were. Until now.

Now, we know at least one of them. Nikki Haley, Republican candidate for governor.

During the primary season, Nikki Haley and her Republican opponent released their tax records, as did Democratic candidate Vincent Sheheen. And that's when we learned that Nikki Haley is one of those scofflaws--I love that word--that had failed to file their taxes in the last decade.

And, with the release of those tax records, we learned that, had Ryberg's bill been in effect, oh say, sometime in the last decade, Nikki Haley would not have been allowed to run for re-election in 2006 or 2008, because at the time of the elections, she had not yet filed her tax returns for 2005 and 2007, respectively.

Yes, Nikki Haley didn't file her tax returns. But the more recent revelations about Nikki Haley's tax troubles came to light because the family business--whose books she brags of having done since age 13--crossed the line, forcing state tax officials to take public action to collect the overdue taxes.

As reported by the AP, the state Revenue Department filed tax liens against Nikki Haley's family business three times since 2003--twice for failure to pay income taxes, and once for failing to turn in the taxes it withheld from employees' paychecks. In all three cases, the taxes were at least 19 months past due when the state finally stopped negotiating with Nikki Haley's company, and forced it to pay up.

Now, to be sure, the taxes were filed, and paid, late, and this doesn't preclude someone from running for office, but it does show the character of Nikki Haley, and how she doesn't feel the need to pay her taxes until she is forced to do so, but it does bear noting that, as governor, Nikki Haley would be in charge of the state Revenue Department that filed the liens against her family's business.

Sounds sketchy to me. And, even worse, somehow, than her inability to pay her taxes on time, was the lack of contrition on her part. Was Nikki Haley ashamed of her failure to pay taxes on time? Was she apologetic for not paying her taxes until the state put liens against her? No, rather than being apologetic for breaking the laws that she would enforce upon all South Carolinians, Nikki Haley has tried to suggest that her failure to pay or even file her taxes on time somehow shows solidarity with an overtaxed public.

Yes. Nikki Haley is one of the overtaxed, and doesn't want to pay her taxes. So, if she leads by example, and everyone in the state feels as she does, and doesn't pay taxes, what would she do? Just let it go? No, she'd enforce the law, which shows that Nikki Haley believes the laws don't apply to her.

Nikki Haley is wrong for South Carolina.

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