State Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway, was recently included on a list of state legislators who owe taxes.
The Associated Press reported the lawmaker owes $42,672 in state taxes and a $73,000 lien has been placed on his Midway home.
“The state has been unreasonable,” Williams said in the March 6 article. “I think it’s all crap.”
He told the AP that he thinks the state owes him more than $400. The misunderstanding may be that his charitable givings were not deducted, according to what Williams told the AP.
Attempts to get more comments from the lawmaker this week were unsuccessful.
Williams legislative pay has been garnished since 2006.
Failing to pay taxes could affect an official’s reputation and leave questions for voters, according to Dr. F. Erik Brooks, who teaches a graduate course in ethics in public administration at Georgia Southern University.
“I think that many constituents are going to be, or will be upset once they find out that the person that represents them has failed to do something as basic as stay current on their taxes,” the political science professor said.
Dr. David Skidmore-Hess at Armstrong Atlantic State University sees differently.
“It might,” wrote the political science professor in an email. “Although, personal shortcomings certainly do not necessarily disqualify someone.”
He compared legislator’s delinquent taxes to a doctor who may have a bad health habit, like smoking.
“It happens, of course, but it doesn’t seem to set a good example,” Skidmore-Hess said.
There are reportedly 22 Georgia legislators late on the taxes and that is not an isolated case.
“This is not just a local thing,” Brooks said, referencing how several people President Barack Obama nominated for positions turned out to have tax problems.
“To me, it’s very basic to have your taxes taken care of,” Brooks said. “It makes me wonder once these people are elected do they forget the everyday people and people they represent and the kinds of struggles those people have.”
Dr. Richard McGrath, program chairman and president-elect of the Academy of Economics and Finance, offered insight into common reasons why people end up owing the government money.
“Tax evasion, by people with money, is generally because they don’t feel like paying,” said the Armstrong Atlantic State University economics professor. “The type of income people generally evade is privately owned business.”
He explained how most people work for wages and don’t have a choice whether to pay because of withholding.
“But state legislators tend to be higher income, a lot of business owners, so there’s a lot more opportunity and lot more temptation,” McGrath said. “When people own business and they do business for cash there’s potential for tax evasion.”