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Deal campaign: Returns offer complete picture
Barnes campaign, accounting expert say supplemental forms should be included
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Republican Nathan Deal released 29 years of tax returns on his campaign website Thursday, but questions remain about his financial past.

The approximately 200 pages of tax records contain only the federal 1040 forms and Georgia 500 forms; none of the supplemental forms were included in the disclosures.

Rhonda Marshall, vice president of the Georgia Association of Accountants and Tax Professionals, said it is difficult to know what the tax information means without those additional documents.

Schedule A for example, is a list of itemized deductions, schedule E lists supplemental income from things like rental properties, partnerships or corporations and schedule C shows profit or loss from business.

"If they're not submitting the schedule C or the schedule E, that would put up a red flag for me," Marshall said.
"That's what those schedules are going to tell you, what they're really worth."

Democrat Roy Barnes, who challenged Deal and other primary candidates to follow his lead after he posted 25 years of tax returns on his campaign site in May, said he was not satisfied with Deal's disclosure.

"After months of consulting with his attorneys and accountants, we're very disappointed that Congressman Deal has chosen to give voters only a partial look into what he's been hiding," Barnes spokesman Emil Runge said.

Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said the information released Thursday is sufficient when viewed alongside financial disclosures Deal filed as a U.S. representative.

"The tax forms combined with the financial disclosures paint the full picture and provide voters with all the information they could need about Nathan Deal and his finances," Robinson said. "The financial disclosures really answer a lot of those questions."

Marshall said the tax code is very complicated and that each taxpayer is unique, making it hard to compare returns from two candidates.

"There are no two tax clients that I have that are the same," Marshall said. "Everybody's income is different, everybody has different jobs, everybody is investing differently."

Marshall said she personally would want to ensure that candidates filed their taxes correctly before she voted for them.

"The biggest issue for me is did they file and pay their tax," Marshall said. "If it's filed, the return will stand on its own merit."

Charles Bullock, a professor of political science at the University of Georgia, said candidates are not required to disclose their tax records, but once one candidate in a race does it, there is pressure on the opponents to do the same.

He said though there is a lot of buzz about tax returns, few voters are likely to pore over hundreds of documents.

"My guess is that not one voter in 1,000 looks at them," Bullock said. "Most of us hire someone to do our tax returns because we don't feel that we can make our way through the IRS jargon."

Marshall said publicizing tax information is a bold move for anyone.

"I wouldn't want anybody looking at mine because it's personal," Marshall said. "The fact that they're open to submit a tax return to public view goes a long way as well."