Tale of two politicians with tax issues

Two months ago, we learned that Al Franken had not paid state income taxes in each of the states that he spoke in, rather he overpaid in his state of residence at the times.

The net result, Franken said, was that between 2003 and 2006, he overpaid taxes in New York and Minnesota while failing to pay in 17 other states where he earned income.

Franken said the $70,000 is his newly hired tax team’s estimation of taxes and penalties owed in the various states. Once those tax returns have been processed, he said he will be able to apply for a credit on taxes overpaid in New York and Minnesota.

In total Franken said he under paid taxes by just over $4,000.

He was short a bit, but it seems like the intent was there to meet his tax obligations.

Now Minnesota Republicans were a little unforgiving of Franken as reported in USA Today,

Party chairman Ron Carey said Franken’s business activities “must have a full, and complete public airing if he is to retain any credibility as a candidate for public office.”

In a conference call with reporters, Coleman called Franken’s admission troubling. “Paying taxes is an obligation that I think Minnesotans expect to be adhered to, and that Minnesotans do,” Coleman said.

Yet, when it is disclosed that Presidential candidate John McCain’s San Diego condo is 4 years delinquent on property tax payments, it is met with silence in most of the corporate media (although originally reported in Newsweek), and from Minnesota Republicans, as reported in Salon.

Shortly after NEWSWEEK inquired about the matter, the McCain aide e-mailed a receipt dated Friday, June 27, confirming payment by the trust to San Diego County in the amount of $6,744.42.

I agree with Salon’s analysis that the McCain’s were not trying to avoid paying their taxes, it was more an administrative mix up (sound like Franken’s situation). However, I haven’t heard Coleman comment about what we Minnesotan’s think of this delinquency.

What I really liked in Salon was this,

Exactly. I very much doubt that the McCains deliberately avoided their tax bill, but their defense is kind of awkward. In effect, their argument is, “We own so many properties, it’s hard to keep track of how much we owe to whom.” It’s not the kind of argument that screams, “Everyman.”

Moreover, embarrassing stories about McCain’s personal finances don’t exactly inspire confidence. It creates an interesting contrast — Barack Obama has no credit card debt and has set up college funds for his daughters; John McCain has a six-figure credit-card debt and hasn’t paid one of his property tax bills. Which of these candidates sounds like the fiscally responsible one?

Do we think that McCain is going to be a fiscally responsible budgeter-in-chief, since he has admitted (Media Matter’s summary of all his admissions) the economy is not his strength?

-Josh

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