This week brought news that many politicians who see tax cuts as the solution to our economic woes tend to unilaterally cut their own taxes -- by not paying them. Needless to say, political candidates running on a platform of fiscal responsibility strain credibility when it's revealed that they cannot even keep their own fiscal house in order. On Wednesday, The Politico ran an article with a list of House challengers and incumbents who have suffered tax penalties for reasons ranging from misreporting to late payments of their property, business, and income taxes. Some even continue to have tax bills outstanding during their candidacies.
For example, Keith Fimian, a Republican running for an open seat in Northern Virginia was charged $16,000 for a lien filed against his home appraisal business in 2005 after the company lost track of some of its 5,000 subcontractors. Republican Luke Puckett running for a U.S. House seat in Indiana still owes nearly $2000 in property taxes due in 2006.
It's easy to be cynical when you see politicians like Mr. Fimian and Mr. Puckett respectively calling for "lower and fewer taxes" and "mak[ing] the Bush Tax Cuts permanent." Taxation is a necessary requirement of democratic governance and we expect our politicians, who should know better than anyone the importance of adequate tax revenues, to set a good example by paying their taxes in-full and on-time.
Unfortunately, one of this year's presidential candidates has had some oversights in the tax department himself. Newsweek reported several weeks ago that the McCain family failed to pay property taxes on one of their homes in La Jolla, California for four straight years.
Separately, Time Magazine reported that Sen. McCain commonly spends several thousands of dollars shooting craps at casinos. Yet for the past two years, he has failed to report any gambling gains or losses on his tax return. You're required to file a Form W-G if you win more than $600 at any one time.
Perhaps, we should give Senator McCain the benefit of the doubt and assume that he never purposely avoided paying taxes but merely erred unintentionally in these matters. This lack of attention to detail is not very comforting, especially when we consider some of the promises he has made that do not add up.