Aiken area SC legislators say they're not tax cheats

COLUMBIA -- Aiken area lawmakers say they're not among the 12 South Carolina House members that have missed at least one year of income-tax filings from 1999-2007.

"Regretfully, I have filed them every year," said Rep. Donald Smith, R-North Augusta. "In fact, I've had to pay some money just about every year. That is a fact."

This week Sen. Greg Ryberg, R-Aiken, filed legislation barring those who have not filed required income taxes from holding state elected office. The three bills were a response to a report he received from the S.C. Department of Revenue that said one dozen lawmakers in the lower chamber showed no filing for at least one year.

Reps. Tom Young, R-Aiken, and Roland Smith, R-Warrenville, also said they paid their taxes faithfully.

"I can say I filed every year starting in the early 1950s," said Roland Smith.

Rep. Bill Clyburn, D-Aiken, said he was "absolutely not" among those implicated by Ryberg.

"It is hard to believe that is the case with anybody," he added. "We are held to a higher standard as public officials."

Some Democrats had objected that Ryberg made the provocative announcement without disclosing the 12 members' names.

Rep. Bakari Sellers, D-Denmark, said he'd received numerous inquiries on the topic, including one phone call from a friend, in which he was asked, 'was it you?'

But the 24-year-old said he's paid his taxes for the last three years and was a full-time student and dependent before that.

The Department of Revenue declined to reveal the names of the lawmakers who showed no filing for one or more years.

"This confidentiality law stands even if you were to FOIA the names," said department spokeswoman Adrienne Fairwell.

Sarita Chourey can be reached at (803) 727-4257 or sarita.chourey@morris.com.

More

Savannah River Site resumes normal activity

A suspicious item was discovered Wednesday afternoon at the Savannah River National Laboratory which prompted emergency responseactivities.

... Read more