Overlooked in coverage of Tim Geithner’s and Tom Daschle’s unpaid taxes is the $70,000 that Minnesota Democratic senatorial candidate Al Franken has admitted to owing in back taxes, interest, and penalties.
Last April, the California Tax Franchise Board revealed that Franken owed the state $5,800 in taxes, fines, and penalties because he did not file returns in 2003 through 2007. Franken then admitted that he owed more than $50,000 in back taxes to 17 states.
Franken blamed everything on his accountant of 18 years, saying he failed to report the income from the comedian’s celebrity appearances and speeches in those states where he made money outside of Minnesota and New York, where he lives. Franken claimed he overpaid taxes in those two states and will file for refunds.
But the accountant, Allen Chanzis, has not verified Franken’s account. In fact, he has said he was told not to talk to the press. Nor has Franken released any documentation to show that he overpaid taxes in two states.
“I’ve been told to say ‘no comment,’” the accountant told reporters.
On top of failing to pay taxes in 17 states, the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board hit Franken’s corporation with a $25,000 penalty for failing to carry worker’s compensation insurance for his employees in New York. Yet Franken ran as an advocate of middle-class voters.
Chanzis’ Web site specifically says his firm “handles multi-state filings” and that he has “unique expertise in all aspects of tour accounting and reporting.” It is absurd to think that Chanzis did not understand the tax laws. More likely, Franken — who bears the ultimate responsibility for paying his own taxes — directed his accountant not to pay the taxes. Since his accountant will not talk to the press, presumably on orders of his client, we have no way of knowing whether Franken actually overpaid in the two states where he lives.
After a recount, Franken came out 225 votes ahead of Republican Norm Coleman. Coleman has challenged the results in court, and the issue is being litigated.
To be sure, Franken’s failure to pay taxes was known to voters, and he is not subject to anyone else’s confirmation. But coming on top of the Geithner and Daschle tax debacles, Franken’s failure to pay taxes gives new meaning to Sen. Jim DeMint’s comment that Democrats favor higher taxes as long as they do not have to pay them.
Commenting on Daschle’s withdrawal as a Cabinet nominee, President Barack Obama said, “Ultimately it’s important for this administration to send a message that there aren’t two sets of rules. You know, one for prominent people and one for ordinary folks who have to pay their taxes.”
If Franken is seated as a U.S. senator, he will send the opposite message.
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via
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