Records show Haley late on taxes

Rep. Nikki Haley, R-Lexington

TIM DOMINICK

COLUMBIA -- Tax records revealed Wednesday that S.C. Republican gubernatorial nominee Nikki Haley repeatedly paid fines for not paying her income taxes on time.

Haley, a fiscal conservative and tea party favorite, cites her experience as an accountant on the campaign trail. But she and her husband have filed their taxes late since at least 2004, according to records released by her campaign.

In 2004, the couple received state and federal refunds, but since then the state legislator and her husband have been fined nearly $4,500 on late federal taxes owed. Their tax returns for 2005 and 2006 were each filed more than 14 months late.

"Like many others, the Haleys availed themselves of the opportunity to file extensions when necessary, and when they got their taxes prepared, they filed them and paid any interest they were required to," spokesman Rob Godfrey said in a statement.

The Haleys jointly made $65,700 in 2004, the year she first won her state House seat. They reported $196,300 last year, much of which came from her assistant executive director position at a hospital.

Haley released her tax returns for 2007 through 2009 before her June 22 primary runoff, which showed she'd earned consulting fees from one of the state's largest engineering firms. Wilbur Smith Associates said the pay was for generating business leads.

She released three additional years two weeks after her opponent, Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, revealed 10 years of his returns and challenged her to release more.

Haley has made transparency her key issue, but Sheheen has called her a hypocrite.

Following allegations of an affair with a political blogger and a lobbyist that arose before the primary -- which she quickly denied -- Haley wouldn't release her legislative e-mails, saying she refused to be distracted. She also cited an open records exemption for state legislators.

Sheheen released his legislative e-mails Wednesday -- half a dozen binders' worth -- and challenged Haley to do the same.

"Candidates must practice what we preach," Sheheen said in a statement.

Late Wednesday, Haley's campaign reversed its previous stance and said she would release her legislative correspondence, but did not say when.

"We are in the process of going through each and every email to ensure the privacy of constituents who wrote to Nikki in confidence isn't violated," Godfrey said. He would not say when that process started. Her campaign has previously said she would not waste a minute of time on the request.

Most of the Haleys' 2004 reported salary came from her job as bookkeeper for her family's upscale clothing store. Their combined income increased to nearly $86,000 in 2005, as she became a legislator, and profits for his company, National Barter Co., more than doubled.

But their income dropped to $40,300 in 2006 -- even as they reported nearly $21,000 in home mortgage interest -- as she switched to part-time with the family store and his business reported a net loss. That year, self-employed Michael Haley joined the South Carolina National Guard and reported $970 in income from the military.

In campaign speeches, Nikki Haley frequently talks about her husband's military service and notes he puts on his uniform daily. Since 2007, 1st Lt. Michael Haley has worked full-time as a National Guard Equal Employment manager, and is an officer in the Medical Services Corps, according to the state National Guard.

Last year, he reported nearly $66,000 in military pay, while Nikki Haley reported $22,000 as a legislator and $107,000 from Lexington Medical Center. As an assistant executive director with the hospital's foundation, she was a fundraiser for hospital services and special events, a hospital spokeswoman said. She left that job in April to run full-time for governor.