Republican U.S. Senate candidate Terrence Wall recently became the subject of controversy when reports surfaced that he failed to pay individual income taxes in recent years.
According to Wisconsin Department of Revenue records obtained by Wispolitics.com, Middleton millionaire Wall, founder of T. Wall Properties, paid a state personal income tax of $43,520 in 2005, but paid nothing between 2006 and 2008.
Wall is running against incumbent U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., and fellow Republican Dave Westlake of Watertown.
Ryan Murray, spokesperson for the Wall Campaign, said the reality of the tax situation is that Wall did not owe income tax on those years and recent reports have been misleading.
“We are happy to talk about it and what the truth really is,” Murray said. “I think the key is being open and honest, and the other side is just telling part of the story to mislead people.”
Murray stated the income part of the returns came out to zero as a result of tax credits Wall received from the state for risky business investments, job creation and charitable contributions.
Democratic Party of Wisconsin spokesperson Graeme Zielinski, however, said the party believes Wall is a “tax dodger,” who certainly has a lot of wealth and income.
Zielinski also said the controversy has already affected conservatives, as right-leaning radio talk show hosts Charlie Sykes, Jeff Wagner and Mark Belling had a negative response to Wall.
“You can already look and see the right-wing talk brigade is even having problems with Wall,” Zielinski said. “We believe people will look at this [situation] and see what a bad candidate he is.”
Murray dismissed DPW criticism and added the Wall campaign is moving forward with its efforts, including visits to every county in the state and lotsaccepting media interviews. He said the events have had a great turnout and have showed thatcitizens are “hungry” for new representation in the Senate.
Feingold campaign spokesperson Trevor Miller said in a statement released earlier this week that Feingold wishes both Westlake and Wall well on their campaign endeavors and encourages them to visit all 72 counties in the state — a common practice for Feingold on the campaign trail and while in office.
Republican Party of Wisconsin spokesperson Kristin Ruesch reiterated in an e-mail to The Badger Herald that Wall did not fail to pay due taxes, but that because of economic conditions and a poor market, he simply did not owe taxes.
“Since [T. Wall Properties] is his business, when times are good, he ends up paying lots of money in, and the converse is true when the real estate market is bad,” Ruesch wrotesaid in an e-mail.
Jon Davis, accounting professor at the University of Wisconsin, said the rumors of “tax evasion” could hurt Wall unless he is very clear in his response.
“[Wall] needs to manage carefully what he is disclosing to people. Some are not fully educated on tax practices and might not understand the situation,” Davis said.
If Wall says he is paying his taxes, Davis said he has every reason to believe this is the truth unless the Internal Revenue Service says otherwise.