'I'm not very good at math.' Lt. Gov. Robinson pays off tax bills dating back to 2006 after WRAL inquiry
Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson on Thursday finished paying off hundreds of dollars in delinquent vehicle tax bills dating back to 2006.Posted — Updated
“I don’t have any unpaid taxes,” Robinson, North Carolina’s top Republican executive officeholder, told WRAL News on Wednesday afternoon.
When presented with documents, Robinson took out his reading glasses and glanced through the invoices he was handed.
“Oh no, oh no,” Robinson said. “That is not the case.”
But the Guilford County records showed four bills in Robinson’s name. Robinson was confident he had paid off all his tax liabilities before buying a home in Colfax. At a minimum, he thought someone had made a mistake.
He indicated that his wife, Yolanda Hill, handles their tax filings and other financial paperwork.
“When you start talking about taxes, if I’m the guy doing them, somebody's going to jail,” Robinson said. “I’m not very good at math.”
On Thursday, the Guilford County Tax Department confirmed the bills in Robinson’s name had been paid and notices would’ve been mailed to the address it had on file.
“He did apparently, I guess at your prompting and you calling, went ahead and paid four of these five bills,” Guilford County Tax Director Ben Chavis told WRAL News on Thursday morning. “The fifth bill is under his spouse’s name. It has not been paid.”
The fifth bill was paid later on Thursday, Chavis' office said Friday morning.
Robinson said in a statement on Thursday that he swiftly sought to resolve the outstanding bills.
"We were unaware of any vehicle taxes owed, and as soon as we were, we paid them immediately," Robinson wrote.
Hill said in an interview on Thursday afternoon that she handles tax paperwork and hadn’t known about the family’s unpaid bills until Wednesday. She said that two of the vehicles that hadn’t been paid were totaled, while another car had been sold.
She said her husband should’ve paid off their collective bills by Thursday morning.
“If we had known it, we would’ve paid it,” Hill said. “As soon as we found out about it, he went there this morning and paid them.”
Chavis said it would have been Robinson and Hill’s responsibility to inform the department of any address change.
Of the combined $1,271.33 Robinson and his wife owed, all but Hill’s $360.27 had been paid by Thursday morning. Chavis noted the payments for Robinson’s bills were made late Wednesday and early Thursday and would likely show up as paid on the county’s online database on Friday.
Robinson’s tardy payments offer a glimpse into the personal finances of the outspoken Republican who has said he’s likely to run for governor in 2024. Robinson has a history of financial trouble, including three bankruptcies in 1998, 1999 and 2003 and seven years of unpaid federal income taxes, court records show.
Robinson said he didn’t know whether he files his federal income taxes separately or jointly.
“Things fell by the wayside, and, of course, we shouldn’t have let them fall by the wayside,” Robinson said. “But when you don’t have the money, you just don’t have the money. I think it was an agglomeration of just being in financial debt and not being able to have the funds to be able to pay them. Having learned those lessons and having walked through those things, it’s why I’m so determined not to get back to that place.”
As North Carolina’s lieutenant governor, Robinson is the second highest-ranking state official. He would take over as governor if Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper died, resigned or was removed from office. When Cooper travels outside the state, Robinson also presides as acting governor.
Additionally, if Robinson were elected governor if he ran in 2024, he would oversee the state’s purse strings by having the ability to sign or reject annual budgets. The budget approved this year totaled $27.9 billion.
Robinson views his lived experiences as an advantage that makes him relatable to North Carolinians and more equipped to safeguard taxpayer dollars.
He said his personal financial missteps shouldn’t concern those who may question his fitness to handle the state’s money.
“I now have a responsibility to the people who voted me into this office to show some restraint and to show, quite frankly, some leadership,” Robinson said. "We intend to do that. Those lessons that I learned in the past help me to maintain that.”
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