5 legislators are warned for not filing

By Nolan Clay and Randy Ellis Published: January 20, 2008
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© Copyright 2008, The Oklahoman

Oklahoma House Speaker Lance Cargill failed to file his personal income tax returns for the last two years until getting a warning from state tax officials, The Oklahoman has learned.

Four other legislators also have overdue personal income tax returns, tax records show. One has not filed five years' worth of state income tax returns, the records show.

Intentionally failing to file a state income tax return is a misdemeanor, even if no further taxes are owed. The crime has a maximum punishment of a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

"I'm human. I made a mistake,” said Cargill, an attorney. "There's nobody more upset over it than I am because I cost myself money because I was entitled to refunds.”

Cargill, R-Harrah, said he rushed to complete federal and state tax returns and sent them in Friday after getting a notice at his house from the Oklahoma Tax Commission. He blamed a miscommunication with an accountant. Legislators in a 2003 law required state agencies to fire state employees who repeatedly fail to file state tax returns. Cargill was among those voting for the law.

The Tax Commission sent Cargill a form letter Jan. 7 warning him that its records showed he had not filed his 2005 and 2006 state income tax returns.

Cargill was told in the letter that a law requires the Tax Commission to notify any state employee "deemed to be out of compliance” with state income tax laws. He was told: "The Tax Commission is unable to verify that you are in compliance.”

As House speaker, Cargill has a key role in deciding how tax dollars are spent.

Also not filing recent state returns were Rep. Don Armes, Rep. Ryan McMullen, Rep. Jabar Shumate and Sen. Connie Johnson, records show.

Most tax records about individuals are secret but who filed a state return is public. The public records do not reflect whether the legislators owe any overdue taxes.

Armes, McMullen and Shumate confirmed they also got letters this month from the Tax Commission.

The tax records show Armes, R-Faxon, did not file 2005 and 2006 state returns.

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