We pay taxes on time, why can’t Ral­ston?

The Covington News - - Opinion - DICK YARBROUGH, COLUM­NIST Reach Dick Yarbrough at yarb2400@bell­south.net or P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, GA 31139.

I own a va­ca­tion home in Daw­son County — Big Ca­noe to be ex­act. Ev­ery year, we get a bill for prop­erty taxes and it is paid promptly. If it wasn’t, I am afraid some­one in the tax of­fice would post my name on the court house door and that my neigh­bors in Big Ca­noe would be so hor­ri­fied they wouldn’t make eye con­tact when I waved at them.

Big Ca­noe is a lovely place but the lo­cals get snip­pety about the rules. They tell you what color to paint your house (iri­des­cent orange is ta­boo), what can go on the roof (tar pa­per is not an op­tion) and what you can and can­not put in your yard (No plas­tic pink flamin­gos). You can imag­ine what they would do to a tax mis­cre­ant. They would prob­a­bly tat­too a letter on your chest, al­though it wouldn’t be scar­let. Scar­let is not a per­mis­si­ble color in Big Ca­noe.

Thank good­ness, our House Speaker David Ral­ston doesn’t live in Big Ca­noe be­cause while the man looks like he never missed a meal, he seems to con­tinue to miss his tax dead­lines. He has just paid about $1,300 in late taxes due on prop­erty in Daw­son County owned by his wife, af­ter the Atlanta news­pa­per con­tacted him about the out­stand­ing bill. Lo­cal offi- cials filed a tax lien in April for un­paid taxes, penal­ties and in­ter­est. It turns out he has been late with his taxes on the prop­erty for the last four years. On top of that, he has had to pay the state gov­ern­ment thou­sands of dol­lars for late pay­ment of per­sonal in­come taxes.

And he is a leader in state gov­ern­ment? I will sleep well tonight.

Ral­ston also paid more than $400,000 in back taxes to the U.S. gov­ern­ment in 2007.

He blamed those prob­lems on a book­keeper who later pleaded guilty to em­bez­zle­ment.

This time, he blamed his Daw­son County tax prob­lems on mi­grat­ing fruit flies. That is not ex­actly true but it kept him from hav­ing to blame his wife, even though she owns the land and is re­spon­si­ble for the taxes. Blam­ing any­thing on your wife can get you beaten se- verely about the heads and shoul­ders.

Frankly, I am not sure what my taxes are in Daw­son County be­cause The Woman Who Shares My Name keeps up with that stuff. My job is to hide the plas­tic pink flamin­gos in my yard and see if the Big Ca­noe authorities can find them.

Maybe the speaker and his wife need to come to a sim­i­lar ar­range­ment. He could pay the bills and she can hide the plas­tic pink flamin­gos. There is no penalty for hid­ing flamin­gos late.

I have this sense that David Ral­ston re­ally doesn’t care much for my ad­vice, if he even knows I ex­ist. That is be­cause he has a horde of leg­is­la­tors and staffers and lizard-loafered lob­by­ists fawn­ing over him and telling him how won­der­ful he is. (“For­got to pay your taxes again this year, eh Mr. Speaker? Ha! Ha! Ha! You are a riot, sir. May I buy you break­fast, lunch and din­ner and take you to a ball­game?”)

Al­though we are neigh­bors in Daw­son County, we have never howdied. Ral­ston has never asked me over to his place for but­ter milk and corn­bread and he did not in­vite me on his lob­by­ist-funded “work­ing trip” to Ger­many and the Neth- er­lands this past Thanks­giv­ing. Bum­mer.

On the other hand, maybe he is wait­ing for an in­vi­ta­tion to visit us at Big Ca­noe for a free meal. I do be­lieve the man loves a free meal. The Woman Who Shares My Name will pre­pare a lovely din­ner and he won’t have to worry about eat­ing broc­coli. It is a known fact that at high al­ti­tudes, broc­coli will ex­plode. Broc­coli can be haz­ardous to your health.

If the Speaker is in­ter­ested, he can come to Big Ca­noe and head straight up the side of the moun­tain. He won’t have any trou­ble find­ing our house. Granted, it is painted the same color as all the rest of the houses in Big Ca­noe — drab — but when he sees plas­tic pink flamin­gos peep­ing out from the sep­tic tank, he will know he is there.

Af­ter din­ner, we will sit on the porch, suck on some sweet tea and I shall ex­plain to him why big-shot politi­cians who think their feet don’t smell should pay their taxes on time like the rest of us. It will be a short con­ver­sa­tion.

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