Records reveal some Memphis City Council members owe back taxes

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — They make the rules and handle millions of dollar in the Memphis budget, so you would expect city leaders to be on top of their own finances.

But a recent review of city and county tax records shows that’s not quite happening.

While the majority of Memphis City Council members and Shelby County commissioners are current on their property taxes, a few are not.

City Council Member Martavius Jones has two properties in South Memphis listed under his name.

His property on Washington has two years of back city property taxes due, including $818 for 2016 and $569 for 2017.

He also owes $658 in county taxes on the property.

Jones owes even more back taxes on his home in South Memphis, including $1,296 for 2016 and $1,000 for 2017.

He is behind $1,155 for county taxes as well.

We reached out to Jones for comment but have not heard back.

City Council Member Jamita Swearengen told us her unpaid 2017 taxes were an oversight.

She owes $462 in county taxes for her South Memphis home.

She also has outstanding taxes, ranging from $100 to almost $300, on three different pieces of property in North Memphis — property shes says has been in the family and of which she is owner.

Within a few hours of WREG inquiring about them, Swearengen said she made the back payments and was now current.

But when we asked her for comment on why she had not paid before our call, she said she was on a conference call and didn’t have time to talk to us.

City Council Member Janis Fullilove owes $400 in county taxes on her airport-area home.

We couldn’t talk to her when we went to her house, but at City Council she told us she is now running for Juvenile Court Clerk.

Election officials say there is no law requiring candidates for office to be current on their taxes.

But taxes are how governments are able to operate. Even the head of City Council says those tax dollars are crucial to running the city.

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