For the second time this month, a member of the S.C. General Assembly has been convicted of not paying his income taxes.
S.C. Rep. Harold Mitchell (D-Spartanburg) pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of failing to pay his income taxes from 2005-08. Mitchell was given three years probation and ordered to pay $10,000 in addition to back taxes in the amount of $6,000.
The Upstate Democrat – and former leader of the S.C. Legislative Black Caucus – had been facing four felony charges and up to 20 years in prison.
Mitchell’s plea comes ten days after S.C. Rep. Kris Crawford (R-Florence) was found guilty of four counts of failing to pay his income tax. Crawford – who has since repaid his debt to the state – was ordered to pay a fine of $10,000.
Mitchell and Crawford aren’t the only state lawmakers whose income situations have raised eyebrows. Former S.C. Rep. Nikki Haley – who was elected governor in 2010 – is still facing questions regarding her lengthy history of tardy tax filings. Haley is also facing much more serious questions regarding how much money she earned during the middle part of the previous decade.
Despite reporting income of roughly $40,300 to the IRS in 2006, Haley and her husband Michael lived in a large, $300,000 home – with Haley tooling around town in a Cadillac SUV wearing expensive clothes, jewelry and lingerie. More problematically, last March it was revealed that Haley’s job application for a fundraising position at Lexington Medical Center included a 2007 income estimate which vastly exceeded the amount of money that Haley reported to the IRS that year.
As we’ve noted on numerous occasions, South Carolina’s leaders need to enhance our state’s competitive position by cutting government and reducing income tax rates. Of course they’ll never have any credibility on that latter issue if they fail to pay their own income taxes.