Nikki Haley, gubernatorial candidate and former accountant, repeatedly pays taxes late

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — Tax records revealed Wednesday that South Carolina 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, then 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 and challenged Haley to do the same.

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