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      Crackdown on Georgia lawmakers who fail to file taxes

      Sen. Eric Johnson (R-Savannah) applauded final passage of a bill that carries his provision to hold legislators accountable for filing their state income taxes annually. As chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee, Johnson took swift action this session to ensure that Georgians have a right to know if their elected officials evade that responsibility.

      As legislators, we are entrusted with the power to tax our citizens and spend their money, Johnson said. Elected officials should be held to the same standard as those who voted to put them in office.

      The House voted Friday on final passage of Senate Bill 168 which, if signed by the governor, will enact a provision authored by Sen. Johnson that requires the Department of Revenue commissioner to report annually the names of legislators who avoid filing their taxes to their respective Senate or House Ethics Committee. The committee can conduct an investigation of those members to determine if they have committed misconduct by failing to file a Georgia personal income tax return. If the committee conducts a public hearing for the misconduct, the names will become public at that time. Each body can discipline their members, including removal from office.

      This action was taken after reports that 10 percent of legislators had failed to file their income taxes for multiple years. The reports stated that the majority owed $20,000 or more in back taxes. This bill was necessary to expose the names to the legislature and the public.

      The bill now goes to Governor Perdue's desk for his signature.