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Speaker paid property tax late on office

By Nolan Clay and Randy Ellis Published: January 27, 2008
Oklahoma House Speaker Lance Cargill was delinquent in paying property taxes on his Harrah law office six years in a row, an investigation by The Oklahoman revealed.

"I take full responsibility for this error,” the Republican leader said Friday in a statement prepared after flying to Florida for a meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

"I certainly apologize to the people of Oklahoma and to my colleagues, and will take steps to ensure these matters are handled in a timely and efficient manner in the future,” Cargill said.

Oklahoma County Treasurer Butch Freeman said, "He's one of my favorite taxpayers because we make a lot of money on him in interest and penalty.”

Cargill has faced widespread criticism over the last week for other tax problems.

The Oklahoman reported Cargill failed to file his 2005 and 2006 personal income tax returns until getting a Jan. 7 warning from the state Tax Commission. Cargill blamed a miscommunication with an accountant.

Cargill, who is an attor-ney, fell behind months on many of the property tax bills on his law office, county records show. His company, Harrah Professional Partnership, bought the office in September 2001.

The property tax on the first year was paid on time but payments have been late every year since, records show.

Local school districts are the biggest losers when Oklahoma property owners fail to pay their real estate taxes on time.

More than half of the real estate taxes on Cargill's law office were designated for support of Harrah schools, records show.

Smaller amounts go to support other schools in the county, the city of Harrah, Oklahoma County government, the library system, the Oklahoma City-County Health Department and a Choctaw technology center.

Most of the original tax bills on the law office have been about $700 or less for the year.

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