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Sunday, October 5, 2008

There's no debate: Palins owe thousands in back taxes

On Friday afternoon, just at the time of the week when people unveil unhappy news releases in order to minimize media coverage, the McCain-Palin campaign released Sarah and Todd Palin's federal income tax returns for 2006 and 2007. The returns do not include as taxable income any of the per diem allowances or travel expense reimbursements that the State of Alaska paid for travel by Sarah or Todd Palin, or by three of their children (Bristol, Willow, and Piper Palin), in 2007. At roughly the same time as it released the returns, the campaign also handed out an opinion from a Washington, D.C. tax lawyer that purports to address at least some aspects of the propriety of the omission of the travel money from the 2007 tax return.

Since then, one commentator has reported that there is now a "wonky debate" as to the correctness of their omitting the travel money from their tax returns. We disagree. There is no serious debate (at least, none that has been brought to our attention) about the fact that at least the amounts paid for the children's travel -- $24,728.83 in 2007, according to the Washington Post -- are taxable. The campaign's tax lawyer has got at least that much of the law, and perhaps more, wrong.

The opinion is from Roger M. Olsen, an M Street solo practitioner who was a tax official in the Reagan administration. His specialty appears to be the criminal side of the federal tax laws. Olsen's three-page letter never comes out and directly says "It's my opinion that the travel payments the Palins received were not taxable to any of them."1 Instead, it bobs and weaves a fair amount and never lands squarely on point:

Unless employees have reason to know that the W-2 is incorrect, the IRS expects employees to rely on the employer's W-2 as prepared & filed with the IRS, as Governor Palin did. The income tax aspects of fringe benefits are complex and highly technical, and not subject to second-guessing by laymen. The State of Alaska is confident that its position is correct. Its employees were entitled to rely on that determination. So was Governor Palin.

Finally, under State law, the spouse of the Governor (or other family members on occasion) is entitled to payment of travel costs by the state when conducting official State business. I find no reason or rule of law that would lead me to a different conclusion as to his receipt of such State payments. Such payments for family members traveling on state business would not properly be included as taxable income on Governor Palin's federal tax returns.

Let's take the two paragraphs in order. The first one never actually says the payments weren't taxable income. It says that the Palins were "entitled to rely" on what the state did and didn't include on the W-2. What is that supposed to mean? If Olsen is saying that the federal tax consequences of payments from one's employer are conclusively determined by one's employer's treatment of the payments on the W-2, that's just flat-out wrong. Granted, the employer's omission of the payments might help the employee defend against any civil or criminal penalties that might be asserted, but no one with any credibility has suggested that the Palins have committed any fraud or behaved negligently. (The "tax cheat" headlines pouring out of the blogosphere over the last day or so are idiotic.) The Palins, who had their tax returns done by HR Block, simply got it wrong. And the fact that the state payroll office got it wrong, too, doesn't erase the Palins' unpaid tax liability.

On to the second paragraph just quoted. After one totally irrelevant sentence about state law, and another sentence referring back to the baffling first paragraph, Olsen finally does say -- or comes close to saying -- that the amounts the Palins received for travel were not taxable (not to Governor Palin, anyway). But here, there is no doubt that he's at least partly wrong. There is no question whatsoever that the payments for the Palin children's travel -- $24,728.83 -- were indeed taxable to Governor Palin. The money paid for Todd Palin's travel -- $18,761.37 -- might possibly turn out to be tax-free, but it would be quite a stretch. And the per diems and other travel payments to the governor herself ($16,951) may or may not be taxable, but certainly not because state law or the state payroll office says so.

The children's travel payments are clearly taxable income. In our earlier post on this back on September 10, we theorized that Section 274(m)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code required that the payments be reported as income. Just yesterday, Bryan Camp, a tax professor at Texas Tech Law School, uncovered an obscure regulation2 (at least, it was obscure to us) that renders Section 274(m)(3) inapplicable to the Palins' situation. But that regulation puts them back under the tax regime for deductions for business travel under older law (pre-1986),3 and under that older set of rules, there is still no way they can exclude the payments for the children.

The Palins, living as they do in Alaska, are governed by Ninth Circuit law. The key case on deductibility of family travel expenses in this circuit is Stratton v. Commissioner, decided in 1971. In Stratton, a State Department foreign service officer's own travel expenses were ruled deductible, but his wife and children's travel expenses were held to be nondeductible. The court of appeals declared, in a passage that would seem quite applicable to the Palin children, if not also to Todd Palin:

Mrs. Stratton and the children are not employed by the Department. There is no mandatory requirement either by statute or regulation, that they accompany the employee on home leave. The reason that the family customarily does accompany the employee is no doubt due in large measure to the fact that the Secretary of State is authorized to pay their travel expenses to and from this country. 22 U.S.C. Sec. 1136 (1964). However, the fact that these expenses are so paid does not clearly indicate that the Department, as a matter of policy, or that Congress in adopting Sec. 1136, felt that the family's reorientation to the American way of life was necessary to the conduct of Stratton's trade or business as a foreign service officer. At best, it represents an accommodation by the Department to enable the family to fulfill its personal needs in reacquainting itself with the homeland at the same time that the employee is renewing his knowledge for business reasons. Finally, the asserted "public relations" duties of Mrs. Stratton are unspecified and, without further support in the record, must be considered to be incidental to her husband's business within the meaning of [the regulations].4
The Palin children cannot be performing more than incidental services for the state -- if they provide any at all. Under Stratton, then, there is no "business purpose" for their travelling between Juneau and Wasilla, and thus their travel payments are taxable.

Which brings us to Todd Palin, the state's "First Dude." Could his travel meet the test of the regulations? They state (pardon the sexist language -- they're old regulations):

Where a taxpayer's wife accompanies him on a business trip, expenses attributable to her travel are not deductible unless it can be adequately shown that the wife's presence on the trip has a bona fide business purpose. The wife's performance of some incidental service does not cause her expenses to qualify as deductible business expenses. The same rules apply to any other members of the taxpayer's family who accompany him on such a trip.
And the Stratton case makes clear that the spousal services must assist the employee spouse's business of being an employee, not the employer's overall business. Can whatever Todd Palin does for the State of Alaska as an unpaid volunteer meet this test? Can he even make that claim with a straight face?

As for Governor Palin herself, questions have been raised as to how she could be "away from home" for tax purposes -- that is, away from her principal place of business -- when she was in Wasilla. Olsen's opinion baldly states that her "tax home" was Juneau, the state capital, but that is hard to square with the fact that the governor spent the majority of her time in Wasilla and in Anchorage, where she works at a state office building. If Olsen is wrong and Anchorage was her "tax home," reimbursements for time spent in Anchorage and vicinity would appear to be taxable.

Even if Juneau is her "tax home," there is also the real possibility that her frequent trips between Juneau and Wasilla are simply long-distance commuting, which is a completely nondeductible, personal expense. In that case, all allowances and reimbursements for gubernatorial travel between the two cities would be taxable.5

There is more to brood about on the Palins' returns, to be sure. Last year Todd Palin claimed losses from his snowmobile racing "business" as a tax shelter against his fishing income. He also claimed deductions for use of a portion of the Palins' residence in his fishing business -- deductions that are difficult to claim legitimately, and which may be further complicated if, as reported, the state reimbursed the Palins for use of that home as a travel allowance.

But leaving all of that aside, the Palins should have reported as taxable income, at the very least, the $24,728.83 of travel reimbursements for the children. That income would have been taxable to them at somewhere between 25 and 28 percent, and so they are in the hole to the government for more than $6,000, plus interest since at least April 15 at the rate of between 5 and 6 percent a year. They should file an amended return and pay the resulting tax and the interest. And if somebody at the IRS took a good, hard look at the payments for Sarah and Todd, we would bet that there would be some additional tax due there as well.

UPDATE, 10/6, 3:26 a.m.: An important fact has emerged that makes what first appeared to be an honest mistake by the Palins into a potentially more serious matter. It now appears that State of Alaska finance officials did not follow their own official policy on tax reporting and withholding on long-term per diems in the case of Governor Palin's per diems. We have details here.

UPDATE, 10/8, 3:08 a.m.: It has come to our attention that the dollar figures in the Washington Post story covered a 19-month period, not just 2007. Regardless, much of the money was paid during that year, none of it was reported, and most of it should have been. The state should have withheld income tax on it and reported it on the governor's W-2 -- and should be doing so now.


1 The opinion letter is curious in several respects. It is not addressed to anyone in particular -- it's "To Whom It May Concern." (You have to wonder who paid for it.) Most of it is spent addressing matters that aren't relevant to the includibility of the travel payments in taxable income. For example, Olsen takes great pains to explain the State of Alaska travel reimbursement procedures, and to point out that the state never provided any special treatment to the Palins. One can question the latter assertion -- we doubt that too many other state employees get paid to take their kids on business travel with them, or to live in their own houses -- but in any event, it doesn't matter much, if at all, for tax purposes.

2 Reg. sec. 1.132-5(t).

3 Reg. sec. 1.162-2(c).

4 448 F.2d 1030, 1034 (9th Cir. 1971) (footnotes omitted).

5 There is the additional question of whether the reporting system that the State of Alaska made the Palins go through to be reimbursed satisfies the "substantiation" requirements of the federal tax regulations. If it doesn't, all of the travel money would be taxable on that ground. For our purposes, it's a decent assumption that this isn't a problem -- but then, we're not an IRS agent.

Comments (46)

In a recent spread on Biden in NY Times...He works the system as well. All that talk about mixing it up with the down & out in Scranton??????? He lives on the water in a 3 million dollar spread.
His landscaping is paid via his campaign fund due to throwing a few bashes for rich democrats every year....Those train rides from DC to his home at a cost of 1200 a month? Paid by his campaign chest. Pretty alarming...In closing I submit to you that ALL of them are thieving crooks.....ALL OF THEM. I'm still voting for Obama-Biden due to NEVER wanting to see Bush cronies in there again....But they are all F%#@*&( crooks.

Hey, if "I'm just a country bumpkin, if I made a mistake I'll fix it" is good enough for Charlie Rangel, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, it ought to be good enough for the Governor of Alaska.

No big deal.
The Palin's pay it off with their mystery money hiden in their freezer.

This isn't about Biden, but let me just jump in here a bit. It's worth noting that Biden's total net worth is ranked #98 or #99 in the U.S. Senate.

As he said in the debate, his home is just about his only asset.

From the Washington Post, last year:

Sen.Joe Biden(D-Del.)

Net worth: $100,000-$150,000

Details: Biden has spent virtually his whole life in public service and does not have much else aside from investments in a small array of mutual funds and cash accounts. He received a $112,000 advance from Random House for a book in 2005.

And thanks, Jack, for an excellent post on the Palin taxes.

Hey, if "I'm just a country bumpkin, if I made a mistake I'll fix it" is good enough for Charlie Rangel, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, it ought to be good enough for the Governor of Alaska.

No kidding. What the Palins did was no more culpable than what Rangel did. Rangel shouldn't be running the Ways and Means Committee.

Top notch reporting Jack!
Would you consider moving back to the garden state to clean house?
I think I know the answer to that
Now if I could only get my wife to move to Oregon with me my mental health would improve 100 percent.

What are we supposed to get out of this "revelation".

It seems this is petty and the Palins are pretty much regular folks.

So what's it mean?

Are we supposed to be appauled or something and run out and tell our friends?
I just don't get why the time is spent on such a trivial issue.
Under your scenario someone is supposed to urge the IRS to look into this and hang the Palin's with a 6000.00 bill?

And of course it means a few more people should vote for Obama?

As a candidate for vice president, she needs to be current on her federal income taxes. She shouldn't wait to be audited by the IRS before paying what she owes.

Omitting $24,000 of income from your federal income tax return is not trivial. If you don't believe me, try it sometime.

The fact that she is billing the State of Alaska for living in her own home and flying her kids around also presents some interesting issues for a self-proclaimed "maverick" who's going to "clean up" government. But they're not tax issues...

Yup, I am appalled that one heartbeat away from the highest office in the land we have a conniving ***** that is either too DUM or crooked and believes she lives on a higher plane and need not obey the same laws as you and me.

Facts: Taxpayer received $17,000 in per diem payments from her employer, the State of Alaska, for which she is the Governor. Alaska considers the governors “duty station” to be the governor’s mansion in Juneau. Taxpayer’s home is a house she owns and in which her family resides, which is located in Wasilla. The Wasilla home is located within 50 miles of state offices located in Anchorage. For purposes of the memo, Wasilla will be considered to be Anchorage, as commutes of less than 50 miles are usually not deductible.

A spokesperson for Alaska has indicated that per diem paid for working on state business in Anchorage was not taxable, because the governors “duty station” is Juneau.

Issues: Is the per diem taxable?

Law: The state’s department of administration, division of finance, has a written policy on the “Income Tax Implications of Long-Term Per Diem.” We assume that it correctly interprets federal income tax law. http://fin.admin.state.ak.us/dof/travel/resourc...

Issues: There are at least two issues that need to be addressed, both of which lead us to conclude that the per diem payments are taxable. We conclude that the State of Alaska has not applied its own policy in evaluating the taxability of taxpayer’s per diem. Why is beyond the scope of this memo.

Issue One: The per diem is taxable, because the taxpayer’s “tax home” is Anchorage (Wasilla).

“If the employee does not work at their PCN duty station at least 50% of the time (vacation time does not count toward time worked at the duty station), then the State must first consider whether the employee works the majority of their time at another location, making this location their principle place of business. If they do, this other location becomes their tax home.”

It is clear that the Governor did not work at least 50% of her first 19 months at her duty station. Hence it may not be her “tax home”. It is just as that a majority of time was spent working in Anchorage. Hence, Anchorage is the governor’s tax home.

Per diem received for travel to one’s tax home is taxable income.

Issue Two: If taxpayer’s tax home was Juneau, taxpayer’s per diem is taxable, because taxpayer’s temporary assignment to Anchorage is expected to last longer than one year.e year.

“Please note, per diem becomes taxable at the point at which it is determined the
assignment will last one year or more.”

We have discussed this issue with the IRS and the following summarizes the IRS comments on the one-year rule and taxable per diem

• One year does not necessarily mean 365 consecutive days.
• Interruptions generally do not start the clock over again on the one-year rule unless they are significant (significant was not defined, but IRS rulings indicate seasonal shutdowns are not considered significant).
• The one-year rule requires the employer to look at the total time spent at the "temporary" location. If an assignment to a location is expected to last more than one year, or actually lasts longer than one year, then any per diem paid at this "temporary" location is considered compensation.”

Given the above law, the facts demonstrate that taxpayer’s assignment to Anchorage is definitely expected to last more than 365 days and those days need not be consecutive. Nor do interruptions in days spent working in Anchorage restart the one year period. As employer, the state was required to look at the total time the governor spent working in Anchorage.

Given that the governor’s assignment to Anchorage was plainly expected to last more than year, her per diem is clearly taxable, even were Juneau her “tax home”, which it is not.

Conclusion: Per diem payments paid Governor Palin by her employer, the State of Alaska, are taxable income for Federal Income Tax purposes for at least two reasons. Her “tax home” is not her “duty station” in Juneau, but Anchorage. Even were her tax home the governor’s mansion in Juneau and her assignment to Anchorage temporary, per diem paid for working in Anchorage would be taxable, since it is expected to last more than a year.

Fascinating. Who wrote all that?

Mea cupa. I apologize for the grammar and spelling, but I am terrible aat proofing my own work.

I was loooking more closely at your opinion. I especially was impressed with the part to the effect that Olson only opined that the tp may rely on their W2, but that may be in general and not if the tp knows better. A major issue is if the gov pressured the issuer to ingnore that state memo on taxaation of per diem.

If you have questions, you have my e-mail

"I just don't get why the time is spent on such a trivial issue."

Jefferson, here is a famous quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
To understand reality is not the same as to know about outward events. It is to perceive the essential nature of things. The best-informed man is not necessarily the wisest. Indeed there is a danger that precisely in the multiplicity of his knowledge he will lose sight of what is essential. But on the other hand, knowledge of an apparently trivial detail quite often makes it possible to see into the depth of things. And so the wise man will seek to acquire the best possible knowledge about events, but always without becoming dependent upon this knowledge. To recognize the significant in the factual is wisdom.

McCain's taxes omit all gambling, even though he seems to have quite a thing for craps and casino lobbyists. Is it true that you always have to declare winnings and then claim losses, even if losses exceed winnings?

Ok now I get it.

Pretty much as I suspected.

We're apparently to believe that this is yet another example of Palin being, unlike Obama, a horrible person.

That this candidate for vice president, knowingly omitted $24K of income and waits for an audit to make her pay what she knows she owes?

No, she didn't have a tax accountant and attorney advising her and doing her taxes.

How do you know she wasn't and isn't doing exactly what her tax people advised and prepared for her?
You don't.
Yet you suggest she is doing something dirty which negates her maverick status.

Then we have the embellishment that follows about being "appalled" at her being a "conniving *****" (female dog?) "that is either too DUM or crooked and believes she lives on a higher plane and need not obey the same laws as you and me."

She's a governor with professionals handeling her tax returns and that's been turned that into her being a dirty, dumb, conniving, bit** politician.


Er, Jefferson... You and KISS (if you are indeed different people) need to step outside and deal with each other directly.

Yet you suggest she is doing something dirty which negates her maverick status.

As the post makes quite clear if you would go back and read it, I am not suggesting tax fraud, or even negligence. HR Block prepared her returns. The per diems and travel reimbursements may never have come up in her conversations with the HR Block people.

I am stating that she owes at least $6,000 (maybe $15,000 or more) in back federal income taxes. As for her selfishly billing the state's taxpayers for living in her own home and flying her kids around, that's not a tax issue, but I do think it's low. "Maverick," indeed.

At the very least, it's relevant and alarming from someone who just stood before the nation and announced that her duties as VP would be to clean up Washington.

This is like someone interviewing for the job of a high fashion designer wearing ripped sweat pants and ratty flip flops.

Irresponsible/illegal behavior around money would probably be the first thing that the American people would like to have cleaned up, in my opinion.

I don't respect or trust her or see her as responsible or qualified. That's all I need to know.

Yup, I am appalled that one heartbeat away from the highest office in the land we have a conniving ***** that is either too DUM or crooked and believes she lives on a higher plane and need not obey the same laws as you and me.

Pelosi? Wait, she's two heartbeats.

Suppose the IRS demands that she pay taxes on the benefit of the travel expenses for the kids. Could Alaska just boost her pay to cover it so that she suffers no harm from the apparent oversight?

One might look for an example to the Oregon legislative remedy following the Hughes case (314 Or 1) as to public employee pension payments. The issue is not considered trivial. That saga continues, as in this tax court case.

I am pondering the formulation of a generally applicable (and functionally retroactive) Alaskan law that would not single out Sarah Palin. Perhaps: "All [elected/public] officials may bring their family with them to official functions at public expense, and the state shall increase their pay so as to cover the tax consequence of treatment of such travel expenses as income by the federal government, if and when the IRS decides."

This correction would not be more offensive than giving public officials personal immunity for a wide range of official misdeeds while in office (to reward political supporters). We don't want public officials to have to sacrifice anything, or no one would run.

Nothing related to money (or politics) is trivial. Would it be cheaper to be "Pro Family" through the above change than to be merely "Pro Sex?"

Earlier today I posted a memorandum that hopefully answered some questions regarding Palin's tax returns and the fact that she did not pay taxes on those payments. That memo was based on an official document of the State of Alaska, Division of Finance.

Apparently the link I posted to that document was comomplete. Hopefully this one works. http://fin.admin.state.ak.us/dof/travel/resource/tax.pdf

"Apparently the link I posted to that document was "comomplete." Damn if I can’t murder the English language. My apologies, but that was supposed to be “incomplete”.

Regardless, the link works. Please go to it and save copies, since there is some concern that the document will be shortly disappear from the State of Alaska web site.

Turning to the claim that whether or not she paid taxes is irrelevant, I beg to differ. I would think nothing of it if the guy down the street didn’t pay taxes under roughly similar circumstances. He would end up owing back taxes, interest, and possibly penalties, but I don’t think there would be reason to believe there was criminal intent.

The same could also be true in the case of Sarah Palin, but the state’s document on taxation of per diem gives any rational person pause to ask why the state failed to follow the dictates of its own policy regarding determining Palin’s tax home and applying the one year temporary assignment rule. If the governor put any pressure on governmental minions regarding their application of those rules, Palin should be indicted for tax evasion. She already is under investigation for pressuring the states commissioner of public safety for personal reasons. Perhaps another investigation into whether or not she pressured employees to disregard established rules for the issuance of W-2 forms is in order.

I guess Palin's a Patriot in addition to a Maverick:

From the debate:
PALIN: Now you said recently that higher taxes or asking for higher taxes or paying higher taxes is patriotic. In the middle class of America which is where Todd and I have been all of our lives, that's not patriotic.

Interestingly the media doesn't seem to be talking about the pending investigation in Alaska or the newly discovered tax irregularities. They are, however, replaying again and again Palin's tempest in a teapot comments about a donor to the Obama campaign who was - 40 years ago - a member of the Weathermen as though this contact somehow makes Obama an anarchist by association.

Glass houses and all that . . .

Jack: Hate to ask for a follow-up, but what are you opinions as to whether that written tax advice complies with Circular 230 and the possible consequences for Mr. Olsen?

Damn, you guys/girls make for some interesting reading. I really enjoy reading FactFinder's posts.
Now I must admit I am scared for the first time in my life. I am nothing more than a dumb construction worker yet I understand the state and federal tax code better than a sitting Govenor and possibly the future vice president of the United States. How can this be? I do understand people make mistakes but come on, if you can figure how to "Tax big oil" and return that tax to the residents of Alaska how is it possible you are to ignorant to even understand what is taxable income for yourself? How can you preach about all your "Maverick" accomplishments yet you cannot even accomplish the task of correctly filling out your income tax. I do believe Miss Palin was well aware that those trips for her children should have been reported as taxable income although I am quiet positive she never in a million years thought somebody would be so dumb to select her for a running mate in the year 2008. I am a Rebulican but I do admit that McCains pick of Palin inults me and many other Republicans like me. For the Palin pick alone I will be voting for Obama.
Please excuse my spelling, it is late in Iowa.

what are you opinions as to whether that written tax advice complies with Circular 230 and the possible consequences for Mr. Olsen?

I've thought about that a little over the last couple of days.

When a lawyer addresses an opinion letter "To Whom It May Concern," does he even have a client? The letter was mailed under a cover letter to Ms. Palin at her home address, but given the way Olsen's main document is addressed, I'm not sure it's even an "opinion" at all for purposes of Circular 230. (For you non-tax types, Circular 230 is the IRS code of ethics for tax lawyers.)

Clearly the Palins and HR Block did not rely on the Olsen letter in preparing their 2007 return. The return was filed on September 3, a few days after she was selected by McCain; the letter is dated September 30.

Since the Palins apparently had an extension of time to file until October 15, it's interesting that they did so just after she joined the ticket.

Also, why use H & R Block? This was not the simplest of returns, plus she was at the time these returns were prepared not only a state governor, but also a VP candidate! I do not understand the strategy.


Initially, I was confused because it didn't read like any other tax advice I've seen; it doesn't use any of the phrases I'm used to seeing. Should have paid more attention to the dates!

If its not an "opinion" or other covered written tax advice, then what's its purpose? It can't be used for penalty avoidance on the return, then what purpose would it have other than misdirection?

I can't imagine its preparation for the IRS Automatic Underreporter Program's CP200 notice.

That letter makes me MORE suspicious about the whole deal.

I paid taxes for my husband on per diem and travel expenses when he accompanied me to business conferences.
I knew it and my CPA knew it.
No thought of chiseling the IRS.
No doubts about it either.
The code is clear on that. Period!
No excuses are in order for a State Governor especially.
And using H&R Block? More smoke!

Also, How do they pay such a little amount on that much income. I certainly pay much more. Their deductions might be interesting to look at too.

I bet you can check the passenger manifest of Pelosi's government jet and find her family riding it free. THis is trivial if Palin was following the direction of the H & R Block tax preparer.

Wow dude, makes perfect sense to me now doesnt it.


Hey Jack,

Grats on getting on Reddit - this post is deserving of the attention...

Gov. Palin almost certainly did not think about the taxable income issue and just handed the info to H&R Block, and we all know how good they are.

It would have done her great good just to admit the mistake, pay the taxes owed, and get on with her life.

The really sad part is that a tax attorney of Mr. Olsen's stature would prostitute himself for what I imagine is personal political gain. (the McCain camp owes him one). Surely he knows his position and reasoning are false.

But what about the $25,000 in GIFTS, (not $2,500 as I believe was claimed)??

Washington Post Article:

"Palin Accepted $25,000 in Gifts, Alaska Records Show"
By James V. Grimaldi and Robert O'Harrow Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, September 26, 2008; Page A08


according to the AP:

Palins' net worth is 1.2 MILLION.

Kari Chisholm Pointed out:

From the Washington Post, last year:

Sen.Joe Biden(D-Del.)

Net worth: $100,000-$150,000

I also believe that the standard of living is more expensive in Delaware/DC than it is in Alaska.

They are, however, replaying again and again Palin's tempest in a teapot comments about a donor to the Obama campaign who was - 40 years ago - a member of the Weathermen as though this contact somehow makes Obama an anarchist by association.

Don't make Ayers out to be less than he is.

He wasn't a donor - he was one of the guys that launched Senator Obama's political career.

The Weathermen weren't anarchists - they were terrorists. Who blew up buildings and tried to murder people.

It was 40 years ago - but by all accounts he's not sorry he did what he did.

Hey Jack, great stuff, but what about this comment posted on the WSJ article? I hadn't even thought of this angle, any thoughts on it?


These tax “releases” are missing the schedule B - regarding dividends - which is likely due to the fact that they provided false incomplete and inaccurate information.

The reason for this 4th complaint is the fact that Sarah Palin has a significant conflict of interest in that her husband and each one of her children are among the approximately 8,000 shareholders of Alaskan Native Corporation, BBNC – which is a major stakeholder of Arctic Slope Regional Corporation – the current holder of the North Slope Oil Fields, ANWR and the National Petroleum Reserve, AK. Both ASRC and BBNC subsidiaries are primarily involved in oilGas development and drilling and receive a LARGE portion of their income from federal contracts and grants according to their annual reports and Fedspending.com and USAspending.com databases. In fact, over the last two years – their benefits from federal contracts and grants have nearly doubled.

According to Ms. Palin’s 2006 financial disclosure forms (available online) – her husband and children are shareholders of BBNC (Bristol Bay Native Corp). In addition, according to BBNC Annual Shareholder Reports (also available online), they derive income directly from ASRC. BBNC distributed approximately $5.8 MILLION in dividends last year to their approximately 8,000 shareholders – anyone can do the math to figure how much the palin family received.

There is no conceivable way that anyone can justify the direct influence in the negotiations of the Alaskan pipeline, the federal contracts and grants, and other involvement in directing funds to the subsidiaries of BBNC & ASRC – which directly impact and benefit her family.
Comment by Tefta - October 4, 2008 at 6:48 pm

The reason for this 4th complaint is the fact that Sarah Palin has a significant conflict of interest in that her husband and each one of her children are among the approximately 8,000 shareholders of Alaskan Native Corporation, BBNC

If I'm reading correctly BBNC shares cannot be bought or sold. So it's not as if they can just _stop_ being shareholders in BBNC is it?

Also .. I'm guessing that anyone involved in government in Alaska is going to have some connection to BBNC. With 8,000 shareholders in a population of 670,000 . . . it's like being astounded that someone in a mill town works for the mill.

Jesus, where to begin? There are 13 regional native corporations. Arctic Slope Regional Corp is based in Barrow, Alaska, Bristol Bay Native Corp is based in Dillingham, 1,000 miles away. They are friendly competitors.

The Palins' ASSETS total $1.2 million, not their net worth.

Palin's assistant has said the gifts are to the office of governor, not the individual. When Sarah leaves office, the gifts stay behind and are not income.

And speaking of Biden, he revealed last week that his campaign has been paying his lawn maintenance bills and buying his Amtrak tickets, some $20,000 per year. Is this income to him?

And on spouse travel, Tony Knowles was the Democrat Governor of Alaska from 1994-2002. Here's a typical year:


This is just on his wife Susan and does not mention how much the State spent to fly his kids and it says nothing about the cost to fly him and his family around the state on the official airplane.

Past practices of the state are interesting, but they have nothing to do with the tax issue.

Brian wrote:
"Don't make Ayers out to be less than he is. He wasn't a donor - he was one of the guys that launched Senator Obama's political career. The Weathermen weren't anarchists - they were terrorists. Who blew up buildings and tried to murder people. It was 40 years ago - but by all accounts he's not sorry he did what he did."

I know what the Weatherman were but what does this have to do with Obama or his current campaign? He couldn't have known Ayers in any meaningful way 40 years ago nor have participated in Weathermen activities. This is a complete red herring.

Does any of you believe there is a cadre of terrorist voted in by the american people? Sorry, but that is Palin stupid.

And calling him a "state terrorist" is wrong. This is the use of violence by a nation-state without clear necessity for self-defense and without the authorization of the United Nations.

These people make stuff up and believe it with the sureness of a sociopath.

I was asked to determine Palin’s tax home, without consideration for the memo on “Tax Implications Of Long-Term Per Diem”, under Tax Topic 511. It has three factors to consider in determining a tax home. Time spent in a location, degree of activity in a location, and revenue derived from activities at a location.

While one can try to determine how much revenue is generated to the state from Palin’s activities in a particular location, such as oil and gas royalties, it would be difficult and I think the consideration isn’t that applicable to the governor. Degree of activity is ambiguous. You guys may know what it means, but I took it as how active is one in a location. If you are merely on call, the degree of activity is negligible. If you spend an hour out of the day attending a state function, that is modest. Putting in an eight hour’s of active work is what I call a full day. I then pointed out that TP 511 provides that the most important consideration is the amount of time.

On further reflection, I am not too certain that anything in the state memo applies to Palin, except the part on selecting the tax home. Regardless, she is northern fried moose.

Palin could spend $10-40 for some decent tax software which probably would have told her whether or not her per diem was taxable. We need to stop giving passes to the rich and/or famous for things that would have the rest of workaday slob being brought into court. Also, I was in the army reserve in the 50s and 60s. Had I pulled a stunt like W. I would have been charged with being AWOL and thrown unto the stockade.

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