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Deal releases 29 years of tax returns
GOP candidate publishes IRS documents for public view
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Gubernatorial candidate Nathan Deal released 29 years worth of personal tax records late Thursday evening.

The release came days after Deal’s opponent in the race, Democrat Roy Barnes, released an ad claiming Deal was “hiding something” because he had yet to make his tax returns public.

Spokesman Brian Robinson said the campaign released them Thursday after working hard to make the information available online.

“We moved to release them as quickly as we could. It’s obviously a lot of documentation over the three decades,” Robinson said. “Nathan’s personal tax forms alongside 18 years of financial disclosures paint a complete picture of Nathan Deal’s finances.”

Robinson declined to comment further.

Although the basic tax forms were released, tax “schedules” — that would provide more details on things like capital gains and rental income — were not included in the documents the Deal campaign posted online Thursday night.

Tax records from Gainesville Salvage and Disposal, the company Deal co-owns and that became the subject of an ethics probe, also were not released. A source in the Deal campaign said the records were withheld because Deal is not the sole owner of the company.

Gainesville Salvage and Disposal is primarily an auction yard for totaled vehicles. But, until last fall, the business served as a site for state employees to inspect rebuilt vehicles twice a month — a deal it had with the state since shortly after the business opened in 1990.

Deal’s involvement in the program came under fire in August 2009 after media reports surfaced that he intervened when Department of Revenue Commissioner Bart Graham tried to privatize the state salvage inspection program.

A report released earlier this year by the Office of Congressional Ethics alleged Deal reported $75,000 in wages from the salvage company on his 2008 tax return, while reporting the same amount as dividend income on his financial disclosure filed with the U.S. House.

If the amount had been reported as wages on his congressional disclosure, Deal would have been in violation of a congressional cap on outside income. The cap in 2008 was $25,830 beyond a representative’s annual salary of $174,000.

Deal resigned from Congress in March before the Office of Congressional Ethics issued its findings and before the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct decided whether to take up the matter. Deal was never fined or charged. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Classifying the money as earned income was a mistake made by Deal’s accountants on the tax forms, Robinson said. He said the mistake covered returns filed for 2006, 2007 and 2008.

The tax forms posted online for those years on Thursday are the amended returns, Robinson said. The original returns were not provided.

Deal faces Barnes and Libertarian candidate John Monds on Nov. 2.

The tax returns, which date back to 1981, are available on Deal’s campaign website. His 2009 tax return, the most recent, was signed and dated Thursday. He files the returns jointly with his wife, Sandra.

Deal, a former congressman, reported a total income of $229,123 in 2009, including $153,753 as his earned salary and $29,094 in rental real estate, royalties, partnerships and trusts.

He also listed a $19,632 loss. Additional forms explaining the earnings and losses were not included on his website. Deal owed $25,399 in taxes, but paid $36,087, earning him a refund of $10,688. He received a refund from the state of Georgia for $5,557.

Politicians are not required to disclose their income tax returns, though in recent years they commonly have.

Deal’s delay in releasing his returns has been a contentious issue in the gubernatorial campaign. Barnes released 25 years of his returns in early May, making them available on his website. During his primary campaign, the former governor called on all gubernatorial candidates to follow his lead.

Also on Thursday, Deal challenged Barnes, an attorney by trade, to disclose how many cases he has tried in the last eight years before judges he appointed during his term as governor. Deal asked him to report how much Barnes and his firm earned from those trials.

“We think it would be a clear conflict of interest and an abuse of power,” Robinson said. “If that has been the case then he should give that money to charity. ... If this is the campaign that Roy Barnes wants to run, that’s unfortunate.”

The Barnes campaign told the Associated Press on Thursday that Deal was still not providing a full look at his finances and was making “a mockery of transparency.”

“By releasing only the cover pages of his returns Rep. Deal is hiding more than he’s disclosed,” Barnes spokesman Emil Runge said.

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