Deal: ‘No knowledge’ of firm’s tax dispute with state

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Gov. Nathan Deal, who recently sold his auto salvage business in Gainesville to a Texas company, said Tuesday he was not aware that the purchaser had been embroiled in a $73 million tax dispute with the state revenue department.

“I had no knowledge of it, for one thing,” Deal said when questioned by reporters about the situation involving Copart Inc., an internet vehicle auction company based in Dallas, Tex.

Copart purchased the salvage company owned by Deal and his business partner, Ken Cronan, in May for $4.1 million and agreed to pay Deal and Cronan $10,000 a month for 10 years to lease the property on which the salvage yard is located.

The Gainesville Times reported that Copart is caught up in a legal dispute with the revenue department, which reports to the governor, over back taxes that the company allegedly owes the state:

According to the company’s Security and Exchange Commission filings, the Georgia Department of Revenue audited the company for sales and use taxes from Jan. 1, 2007, through June 30, 2011, and notified the company it owed $73.8 million, along with interest and penalties.

Randy Evans, Deal’s attorney, said he was unaware of the issue until informed Thursday by The Times.

Evans cited the blind trust that is handling Deal’s financial dealings without his involvement while he is governor.

“The short answer is that we walled off so that we had no knowledge, participation or anything to do with any business that Copart might have with the state of Georgia,” Evans said. “We literally created almost a screen to just say as long as this meets with all of the legal boundaries that are imposed, both as a publicly traded company as well as whatever rules that apply from our end, we did not want to know or be involved in anything that had to do with the state.”

Deal noted that a blind trust has been handling his business affairs without his involvement since he took office in 2011.

“Nobody’s contacted me about anything,” Deal said.

“Certainly, they’ll (Copart) get no preferential treatment from the department of revenue,” he added.

© 2013 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Copart , Nathan Deal , revenue department , tax dispute