MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell Wednesday accused Rep. Jason Chaffetz
of being a “tax criminal” because he sleeps in his office several days a week, and does not declare the Longworth House Office Building his residence on his IRS returns.
After quizzing Chaffetz on what specific items he would cut from President Barack Obama’s 2012 budget, O’Donnell asked the congressman if he would acknowledge to the IRS that for two years he has lived in his office. Chaffetz, R-Utah, replied he lives in Alpine, Utah, and only sleeps in his office when his work requires him to be in Washington.
“Oh, that’s your answer on your tax return, right?,” O’Donnell asked. “Because have you filed on your 2009 tax return, have you filed the equivalent income you have in effect received, by illegally living for free in a federal building?
Chaffetz responded that “I reject the whole premise of what you’re saying. I live in Alpine, Utah. That’s my home. I work here in Washington.”
O’Donnell, host of MSNBC’s “The Last Word,” would not relent in his attack.
“You have illegally seized from the federal taxpayer a personal-income benefit that saves you the rent money that you would pay in Washington like all of your fellow congressmen who are responsible, who pay rent in Washington,” O’Donnell said.
“How much money do you save by not paying rent in Washington? Would you say you save $20,000 a year of your $175,000 salary?” he asked. “Do you declare that savings as income as you are legally obliged to do or are you sleeping in your office as a tax criminal?”
Chaffetz reiterated that he lives in Utah and did not like the tone of the questioning.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonpartisan watchdog group, last week asked the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate whether congressmen who sleep in their offices are violating tax law by failing to report lodging as a taxable fringe benefit.
Congressmen from both parties who sleep in their offices have also been accused of costing taxpayers money, by using extra electricity and water.
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