Nineteen members of the state Legislature have failed to pay state and federal income taxes, some of them dating back to 2002, according to a Georgia Department of Revenue report given recently to legislative leaders.
The report on the alleged tax dodgers, with names and Social Security numbers redacted, has been forwarded to Republican and Democratic leaders of the state House of Representatives and Senate.
“Leaders of both parties have made it clear this will not be tolerated,” state Rep. Joe Wilkinson (R-Sandy Springs), chairman of the House Ethics Committee, said in an interview late Thursday night.
Wilkinson said House and Senate leaders are now discussing what should happen to the 16 House members and 3 senators in wake of the disclosure.
Wilkinson said he requested the report from the Department of Revenue after another House member was found delinquent on his tax returns.
There apparently is no provision in state law to keep the Legislature from seating members who are behind on their taxes, Wilkinson said. But he said both chambers do have the right to expel members who fail to hand over taxes to the government.
“Both the House and the Senate will clarify this issue in coming weeks,” he said.
Republican House Speaker Glenn Richardson and Democratic leader DuBose Porter (D-Dublin) have told members of their caucuses about the report and have asked offending members to come forward and make amends, Wilkinson said.
By JIM THARPE
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Thursday, February 26, 2009