Republican candidate for governor Brian Kemp has been targeting his opponent’s finances. Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams owes the IRS $54,000 but says she’s paying it back.
The Republican Governors Association released an ad Friday, focused on Abrams’ financial situation. Its opening line: “One million dollars. That’s how much Stacey Abrams made over the last five years. But when it came time to pay her 54-thousand dollar tax bill, she didn’t.”
Abrams has said she accumulated her debt while helping her parents financially but is in good standing with the IRS. “I have never failed to file my taxes, I have never failed to pay my taxes,” she said. “I am on a payment plan to fully fund my taxes.”
Dorothy Brown is a tax law professor at Emory University. “It’s fairly common for the IRS and taxpayers to work out debt,” she said. “You agree to a payment plan, you keep the payments up, everybody’s happy.”
Abrams is also being criticized for a $50,000 loan she made to her own campaign.
Brian Kemp has accused her of manipulating the system through that transaction: “She’s a tax attorney who knows the system and how to play it…If that’s not criminal, it should be.”
Abrams said she is being repaid by her campaign and making her IRS payments on time.
Jason Wiggam is an Atlanta tax and bankruptcy lawyer with Wiggam & Geer. He says if debts are under a certain amount and taxpayers fulfill their payment plans, the IRS usually isn’t interested in the rest of their finances. “If they’re trying to suggest she did something underhanded by not giving them that money, that is not the case,” he said.
Ultimately, Professor Brown questions whether these attacks on Abrams will resonate with voters. “You’re not going to necessarily make headway with the average American that is in debt,” she said.
Brian Kemp is allegedly in debt, too. He and two other defendants are being sued for a 500-thousand dollar unpaid loan.
Correction: A previous version of this story said Emory University professor Dorothy Brown’s name was Dorothy Black. It has been corrected.