Skip to comments.Edwards late with property taxes 9 times
Posted on 08/01/2003 6:28:27 AM PDT by defeat_the_dem_igods
Over the past 15 years, Sen. John Edwards has been delinquent nine times on property taxes owed on his homes and automobiles, most recently on a house his family owns in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington.
Edwards, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, paid $11,092.46 to the District of Columbia on Thursday to settle a property-tax bill that was four months late. Jennifer Palmieri, Edwards' campaign spokeswoman , said the family never received a bill for the Georgetown property, which they bought in December for $3.8 million but have not moved into and no longer plan to occupy. The bill was paid after the campaign was questioned by a reporter from The Washington Times, which published a story Thursday.
In a brief interview, Edwards acknowledged Thursday that he had been late on his taxes on some occasions.
Neither he nor his campaign staff offered an explanation.
"I've always paid my taxes," Edwards said shortly after leaving a town-hall-style meeting with constituents. "My taxes have been paid in full, and I take personal responsibility for any time that bills have been paid late."
Edwards, a former trial lawyer, holds assets of at least $12 million, according to his most recently filed Senate disclosure form.
In addition to the recent episode in Washington, Edwards has been late enough paying taxes to accrue penalties once on his family's residence in Raleigh and twice on a beach property on Figure Eight Island. Since 1995, Edwards and his wife have been delinquent five times paying county taxes on vehicles they own.
Republicans were quick to seize on the revelations. The Republican parties in North Carolina and South Carolina, an early presidential primary state, fired off statements accusing Edwards of hypocrisy.
"You know, all those 'regular people' that John Edwards claims to represent in his run for the presidency pay THEIR taxes," wrote Linda Daves , the interim chairwoman of the N.C. Republican Party. "Simply unbelievable."
In the District of Columbia, property taxes are due twice a year, on March 31 and Sept. 15. The first time the Edwardses were due to pay taxes on their Georgetown house was March 31. The home's assessed value is nearly $2 million .
The family's bill was $9,562.46, but it grew to $11,092.46 after penalties and interest.
The family plans to sell the property, Palmieri said. While in Washington, the Edwardses live in a house they are renting in the northwestern section of the city.
North Carolina property taxes are due Sept. 1, but payments are not delinquent and penalties are not assessed until the first business day on or after Jan. 5.
Wake County revenue director Emmett D. Curl said about 85 percent of payments arrive in the last two weeks of December and the first week of January. About 4 percent arrive after January, he said.
The Edwardses' delinquent payments, received in January or later in North Carolina, were :
* Once on their Raleigh house on Alleghany Drive, now assessed at $987,091. In 1995, they were charged $111.21 in penalties for late payment of their 1994 tax bill. The bill was paid Feb. 1, 1995, 27 days after the delinquency date.
* Twice on their beach property on Figure Eight Island in New Hanover County, now assessed at $1,033,410. The 1988 bill was paid more than two months after the delinquency date, on March 26, 1989, with penalties and fees of $23.26. At the time, there was not yet a house on the property. The bill for 1992, after the house had been built, was paid three weeks late, on Jan. 29, 1993, with a penalty of $54.13.
* Five times on automobiles owned jointly by the couple. Two bills were paid March 22, 1995, more than two months late, on a 1989 Mitsubishi and a 1991 Acura. A payment Nov. 13, 2001, on a 1994 GMC arrived 12 days after the delinquency date.
Delinquent payments were received for a 1998 Buick on June 12, 2002, about six weeks late; and for a 1998 Volvo on April 8, 2002, five weeks late. The amounts of late penalties were not available.
U.S. Sen. John Edwards, an N.C. Democrat and presidential candidate, paid $11,000 in Washington, D.C., property taxes Thursday -- four months late and after inquiries from a newspaper.
Edwards, a multimillionaire former trial lawyer, and his wife, Elizabeth, also have been tardy paying property taxes on their house and cars in Raleigh more than 30 times over the past decade, including eight times in which they had to pay interest.
He also has paid two late bills and interest since 1989 on his property and house on Figure Eight Island, an exclusive, private island off of Wrightsville Beach.
In the case of the Washington house, the Edwardses bought a four-story home in the Georgetown area of Washington last year for nearly $4 million and planned to renovate it. Recently they said they plan to stay in the house they're renting in northwest Washington and are considering selling the Georgetown house. The $11,092 tax bill on it was due March 31 but wasn't paid until a Washington Times reporter asked about it earlier this week.
"The Edwardses never received a bill from the D.C. city government," Jennifer Palmieri, Edwards's campaign spokeswoman, said Thursday. "As soon as they got a copy of it, they paid it. The check was delivered today. He's happy to pay his share."
D.C.'s tax office likely got confused by Edwards' multiple housing deals, according to Tony Bullock, spokesman for Washington Mayor Anthony Williams.
"(Edwards) sold his house in Woodley Park, bought a house in Georgetown and moved into a third house he was renting," Bullock said. "More than likely what happened here is that the tax bill got lost in the swirl of those movements. Our tax office is pretty good but we can't guarantee that we sent the tax bill to the right address. Clearly Senator Edwards had every intention of paying his bill."
Republicans quickly contrasted Edwards' late tax payments with his campaign rhetoric about exhibiting responsibility, not creating tax breaks for the wealthy and serving as a champion for "regular people."
"Senator, those `regular people' that you claim so nobly to be running to represent pay their taxes," said Linda Daves of Charlotte, interim state GOP chair. "The hypocrisy of your words versus your actions is simply overwhelming."
The late tax payments in Raleigh, in Wake County, were on the Edwards' house in the Country Club neighborhood and several cars over the years. N.C. counties allow a grace period of a month after car taxes are due before charging interest on delinquent payments.
Most of the payments arrived a few days beyond the grace period, but the image of a millionaire paying his taxes late could be politically problematic for Edwards. He boasts of a working class empathy drawn from his mill town roots in Robbins, N.C., and regularly bashes President Bush for catering to the rich.
"We need to make sure," Edwards said in the text for a speech last November to the Fortune Global Forum, "that businesses and wealthy investors are held to the same standard as ordinary Americans when it comes to following our tax laws."
I believe we have a patriotic duty to avoid taxes to every extent possible. I file at the last minute, structure my business so that I can take advatage of every loophole, etc. But I would never pay late and endure the pernalties and interest. That is just plain lazy and stupid.
Edwards is doing himself, his family and society a disservice by pissing away his wealth to be eaten up by the least productive people in our society (ie, government bureaucrats). The capital wasted in penalties would be far more beneficial in the private sector where it could help the economy and create jobs. So one could argue that Edwards' inefficient management of capital is responsible for some measure of decreased productivity and increased unemployment.
Also, it makes one wonder what else he is inattentive to.
I know for a fact that they are not messing around as I set payment arrangements with them in the past( sales commissions exceeded more than I our co. accountant had advised). Got my Auto tax and this is incentivising me.
As said "the hits keep on coming".
With all due respect, I could not disagree more.
The "little people" have to pay taxes, and are expected to do so on time.
The issue is a moot point with respect to Edwards' dead-in-the-water Presidential campaign. But in my opinion, he just lost his Senate seat.
Remarkably nasty of the Observer (useless fishwrapper!) to print this quote. It almost makes Edwards sound like an in-your-face hypocrite!
And I don't think we're talking about "carelessness" here with their tax bills - I think they're hoping that if they don't pay, the authorities just won't bother to collect.
The home's assessed value is nearly $2 million .
I sure wish my county would let me pay taxes on about half of my property's real worth.
Assessed values are often way out of whack with the actual values. In some cases, assessments are done only once every ten years.
Its total nonsense to focus on a guy who paid his bills late. In fact I'll bet that a large majority of folks would sympathize with him.
Look, if people accept a drunk leaving the scene of an accident, they are not going to worry about someone who paid his taxes late. In fact, there are a fair number of Freepers who hate the tax man so badly he would probably get their vote.
Well, thank you.
We'll just have to agree to disagree here. Being late with tax payments thirty times marks Edwards as a serial offender. He has demonstrated contempt for the laws which his constituents, the "little people," are expected to obey. The rules don't apply to him, apparently, because he's too important.
Perhaps more important politically, his hypocrisy will be laid bare for all to see. To date, little focus has fallen upon his $4 million Georgetown home, nor upon his $1 million+ vacation home on a private island. His failure to timely pay taxes on this real estate will not play well with those who struggle to pay taxes on their doublewides, the more so because he fashions himself the champion of "working families." A "Platinum Populist" who seems to view laws as applying only to others will not play well here.
Look, if people accept a drunk leaving the scene of an accident, they are not going to worry about someone who paid his taxes late.
North Carolina isn't Massachusetts, and Edwards isn't a Kennedy. The state leans Republican, and Edwards has very little margin for error. He just made a fatal one.
And that's the extent of my "total nonsense."
If he pays the taxes, interest and the late fees how do you conclude the "rules don't apply to him" ?
The "late fee" is a penalty for non-compliance with the law. If you get caught for speeding and pay the fine, would you suggest that the fact that you paid the fine means that you didn't break the law? I'd love to see Edwards try that argument next time a reporter asks him about his tax record.
Agreed. If he was refusing to pay and had judgments then I would take notice..
If he'd had 30 traffic tickets, yes, I'd consider it a serious defect, one demonstrating contempt for the laws that we are all expected to follow. Heck, thirty parking tickets would be an issue. The question is not whether he ultimately pays the fines (whether we're talking about taxes or traffic citations); rather, it's the attitude that "I don't need to bother with details that others do."
A similar pattern in my experience comes to mind. I was a member of an organization which conducted its meetings according to Robert's Rules of Order. It was a rather large group, and a time limit was placed on "speeches" from the floor. Speaking overtime was subject to a fine, as I recall, of $5 a minute. We had one member who enjoyed the sound of his own voice, and who made a great show of peeling off $5 bill after $5 bill as he was notified that he was speaking overtime. Asked why he continued to talk overtime and pay his fines, he would always say "because I can." Now, I suppose you could argue that this guy was in compliance with the organization's rules; after all, he paid his fines on the spot. But people resent that kind of behavior. When this individual ran for president of the organization, he got clobbered.
Edwards is a serial offender, with a clear pattern of a cavalier attitude toward the law. True, he has ultimately paid his taxes, plus interest and penalties. So he may have cleared himself with respect to the law, but he'll still be seen (accurately) as a jerk.
Edwards is a serial offender, with a clear pattern of a cavalier attitude toward the law.
So he would seem.