Governor Paul LePage implied that I don’t pay my taxes. I do. Every cent. I think he needs to man up and apologize.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) March 20, 2015
Clearly, the Master of Horror is not satisfied with a corrected weekly radio address.
Bangor resident Stephen King sent the above tweet Thursday evening following a wave of national news stories detailing how Gov. Paul LePage had claimed that the best-selling author doesn’t pay income taxes in Maine and that he no longer lives here. The governor’s comments appeared in the governor’s weekly radio address that was released Wednesday, prompting King, a longtime antagonist of LePage, to hit back at the governor for being “full of the stuff that makes the grass grow green.”
King followed up the tweet by disclosing on Friday how much he paid the state in taxes the last two years.
“In 2013, my wife and I paid approximately 1.4 million (dollars) in state taxes,” King said in an email to the Portland Press Herald on Friday night. “As this is a matter of public record, I have no problem telling you that. I would imagine 2014 was about the same, but I do not have those figures.
“In addition, the King Foundation gives grants from three to five million dollars annually, mostly in Maine. We consider this a very fair price for living in the most beautiful state in America.”
The administration scrambled to delete the reference to King, but not before the dustup hit the national wire and was rewritten by numerous major media outlets. Now King wants an apology.
“Governor Paul LePage implied that I don’t pay my taxes. I do. Every cent. I think he needs to man up and apologize,” King tweeted.
Marsha DeFilippo, a spokeswoman for King, said that she had not received word of an apology as of Friday night.
It’s unclear how many stations broadcast the address, in which LePage also says that conservation philanthropist Roxanne Quimby lives outside Maine. King actually lives in Center Lovell and Bangor but spends his winters in Florida, while Quimby also owns property in Maine.
The governor’s remarks were in the context of his defense of a controversial tax overhaul proposal. The plan reduces the state income tax by raising the sales tax and applying it to new items and services, a proposal that LePage argues will lure wealthy retirees and seasonal inhabitants to make Maine their primary domicile. The tax migration theory has been challenged by Democrats, but LePage attempted to hit back in his weekly radio address, arguing that the state’s income tax was adopted by former Democratic Gov. Ken Curtis, who now lives in Florida.
“Meanwhile, remember who introduced the income tax here in Maine,” LePage said. “Well, today former Governor Ken Curtis lives in Florida where there is zero income tax. Stephen King and Roxanne Quimby have moved away, as well.”
The governor is correct about Curtis. However, his suggestion that King doesn’t live in Maine or pay income taxes here is incorrect. On Thursday, King, the author of 55 novels, many with a horror theme, sent a response to The Pulse AM 620 radio station in Bangor, which he owns, to set the record straight.
“Governor LePage is full of the stuff that makes the grass grow green,” King said. “Tabby (King’s wife, Tabitha) and I pay every cent of our Maine state income taxes, and are glad to do it. We feel, as Governor LePage apparently does not, that much is owed from those to whom much has been given. We see our taxes as a way of paying back the state that has given us so much. State taxes pay for state services. There’s just no way around it. Governor LePage needs to remember there ain’t no free lunch.”
King has long been an evangelist of taxing the rich, including himself. In 2012, he wrote a column for The Daily Beast entitled “Tax Me, for F@%&’s Sake!”
King endorsed former U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud during the 2014 gubernatorial race and has hosted fundraisers for other Democratic candidates. He was among the top individual Maine political donors last year, giving $60,700 to Democratic candidates and committees, according to records at the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices and the Federal Election Commission.