Keet says taxes paid up, blames wife for tax issues

Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Keet says he has caught up on his taxes, and blamed his wife and others for past tax issues that include late payments and the receipt of a state tax credit to which he was not entitled, reports the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Keet said Thursday he’s not “throwing her under the bus” but that his wife, Margaret “Doody” Keet, pays the household bills. He said late tax payments on a Little Rock apartment complex he owns was the fault of the apartment manager and that, based on an accountant’s advice, he did not think he had to pay Arkansas property taxes on his airplane because it is registered in Nevada.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported that Keet said he would report his airplane, which is kept in a hangar in Little Rock, to the Pulaski County assessor’s office for property taxes.

Keet, 61, of Little Rock has touted his business background as qualifying him for being governor.

“I always pay my taxes, I always pay my bills, I always pay my mortgages,” Keet said. “Do I think it’s important that people pay taxes? Absolutely, that’s why I’ve always paid them, and I’ve always paid them on time.”

Keet and his campaign on Friday declined to answer further questions about the plane and his taxes, repeating that he’s paid all his taxes.

“Jim has paid all his taxes and this is all we have to say on this topic,” Keet spokesman Richard Atkinson told The Associated Press in an e-mail.

Keet is challenging Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe in the November election. Also in the race is former state Rep. Jim Lendall of the Green Party and three write-in candidates.

Records at the White County Collector’s office show that Beebe and his wife, Ginger, paid their property taxes when due since at least 1997, the earliest year available at the office.

Also, Beebe had an interest in Dax & Co. of Searcy, which owned the office building that housed his former law firm. Dax paid its property taxes on time from 1997 to 2002, when Beebe left the firm after being elected attorney general.

Keet’s home in west Little Rock received the homestead tax credit of $300 for 2006 and $350 in both 2007 and 2008, although it was not eligible because he lived in Florida.

“Even though it was (the assessor’s) error we voluntarily paid it immediately,” Keet said.

Pulaski County Assessor Janet Ward acknowledged that an assessor’s office mix-up led to the credit being misapplied.

Records at the county treasurer’s office show real-estate taxes have been paid late at least five times on the Bently Apartments in west Little Rock, which Keet purchased in 1991.

Keet said the apartment manager forgot to pay the tax on time.

Taziki’s Greek Fare, a Little Rock restaurant operated by Keet and two of his sons, has been late four times in paying monthly hotel/restaurant sales taxes, according to the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Keet said he knew of no taxes being paid late by the restaurant.

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