Columbus city workers illegally withholding state taxes

By Chauncy Glover - bio | e-mail 

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Back in November of 2008, a letter was sent to every city in Georgia and it made its way to the desk of Columbus Mayor, Jim Wetherington.

In that letter was the names of Muscogee County city workers who were illegally withholding state taxes.

City Finance Director, Pam Hodge says Muscogee County's list was made up of 21 workers who don't have state tax withheld.

"The state was looking for employees who had tax withheld from their pay checks and we produced the report through our IT Department on those employees who do not have state tax withheld each pay period," says Pam Hodge.

But, State Revenue Commissioner, Bart Graham says taxpayers have to meet specific requirements to do that.

"To do that you have to justify that you don't have a tax obligation," says Graham.

While Hodge says they rely on employees to turn over the correct information, state officials say the city has a responsibility too.

"The employee has to validate what they're giving to you, but you cannot turn a blind eye to it when you know how much you're paying the person for the rest of the year of how much you were already paying them," added Graham.

The list from Muscogee County has been sent to the compliance office for auditing, but just because a person's name appears on that list doesn't mean they're in trouble. Revenue officials say they have had cases where an employee was in compliance.