Sen. Williams Supports Georgians’ Right to hold Legislators Accountable for Tax Filing

March 16, 2009

ATLANTA (March 16, 2009) – Senate President Pro Tempore Tommie Williams (R-Lyons) applauded the state Senate for passing legislation that will grant Georgia citizens the right to know which legislators have not filed their taxes annually.

“Public servants must be held to the same standards as those they represent, and their actions should be transparent,” said Sen. Williams. “No elected official is above the law. A legislator who evades his or her responsibilities as a citizen of Georgia and of this country serves only to tarnish the noble occupation of public service.”

The Georgia State Constitution currently provides each legislative body an avenue to censure, fine, imprison or expel members for misconduct. However, confidentiality requirements under state law do not give the Department of Revenue the legal authority to publicly release the names of legislators who avoid filing taxes.

The amendment grants the Department of Revenue the legal authority to release such names to the Joint Legislative Ethics Commission or the House or Senate Ethics Committees. The committees can conduct an investigation of members of the General Assembly to consider if they have in fact committed misconduct by failing to file a Georgia personal income tax return. If the committees conduct a public hearing for the misconduct, the names will become public at that time.

“State government should be accountable to the people it serves. This resolution sends the message that in the Georgia legislative branch, elected officials will have to answer to the very people who sent them here to act in their best interest,” added Williams.

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Sen. Tommie Williams serves as President Pro Tempore. He represents the 19th Senate District, which includes Appling, Jeff Davis, Long, Montgomery, Toombs, Wayne, and Wheeler counties and a portion of Liberty and Tattnall counties. He can be reached at 404.656.0089 or by email at tommie.williams@senate.ga.gov.