Hunting for tax Easter eggs
No more tax snoozing

The tax price of being President

White_house_2 As you struggle to complete your tax return this weekend (and I'm right there with you, back to working on our 1040 as soon as I post this), take some solace in knowing that at least you probably wont end up owing as much as the Prez and Veep did this filing season.

The annual release of the tax returns from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue shows that W and Laura owed $187,768 in 2005 taxes.

Over at Number One Observatory Circle, the Cheneys' bill to Uncle Sam came to $529,636.

And both families made what tax advisers say is a cardinal mistake: They ended up overpaying their taxes during the year.

W and Laura were almost $40,000 over. Deadeye Dick and Lynne are getting an even larger refund.

Yep, the Cheneys are awaiting almost $1.8 million back from the IRS. I'd love to call up the Where's My Refund? hotline on this one, wouldn't you? I suspect, however, that the Veep's amount won't be factored into IRS statistics that, as of April 7, showed the average refund check came to just under $2,300. If you added Dick's check, it would really skew the numbers!

The Bushes aren't getting a refund, though, because they asked that their total overpayment go toward their 2006 estimated tax payments. The Cheneys did the same, but they only wanted $140,000 of their total $1.94 million overage applied. That will help cover some of their investment income, as well as royalties from Mrs. C's books; she did cross out "executive" as her occupation and enter by hand "writer" as her job.

Given the size of the federal deficit, I suppose we should be grateful that the Prez and Veep overpaid and let the government have use of their money for all these months. You, however, don't have to be as generous. If you're getting or got a big refund, consider adjusting your withholding now. Get details on how to that in this story.

And while everyone in this administration values privacy, it comes as no surprise that the Cheneys held their tax returns a little closer to the vest. They released only their two-page 1040. Click here to see the Cheneys' current filing.

The Bushes, meanwhile, also made public their Schedules A, itemized deductions; B, interest and ordinary dividends; D, capital gains and losses; E, supplemental income and loss (i.e., income from real estate, royalties, etc.); as well as two separate Form 8889s, detailing data on health savings accounts (one of the administration's pet projects) for each of them.

The 11 released pages of the 2005 Bush return are here.

The Bush and Cheney tax returns are courtesy of the Tax History Project maintained by Tax Analysts. At that site, you also can check out previous returns from the current administration, as well as tax filings from other prominent Americans and past presidents.

What's that mean? A couple of comments and questions popped to mind as I perused the Bushes' latest filing.

I was glad to see that they, like all us Texas homeowners, are paying for the privilege of having our private piece of the state. The property taxes last year on their Crawford ranch came to $26,172.

That's $4,000 more than the year before, which sort of explains why there's a hue and cry for property tax reform by many Lone Star Staters. Of course, with no income tax to fill the state treasury, operational funds have to come from somewhere.

But since we don't have a local income tax, we Texans, along with most other residents across the country, get the option to itemize sales taxes we paid. The Bushes were wise to claim this deduction, since it might be the last time it's available. We're still waiting to see if Congress extends the tax break.

I noticed that the Bushes claimed $2,603 in sales taxes on their Schedule A. But the IRS-provided sales tax table indicates that filers at their income level and claiming two exemptions are allowed only a $1,972 deduction. Maybe they saved all their receipts last year and came up with the larger total.

That could be what's in "statement 6," which we're instructed to see next to the Bushes' sales tax deduction amount on Schedule A. Statement 6, however, wasn't made public, so I'm going to assume that this statement details some building material they bought to make improvements to the ranch.

Any taxpayer, not just the chief executive of the United States, who claims the sales tax deduction can also add taxes paid for those types of expenditures to the basic table amount. See this story for details.

Of course, any improvements could make the ranch worth more, meaning an even higher property tax for 2006, to be deducted when they file in 2007. Ah, the endless tax cycle.

Also of interest was W's address label. Rather than put down his Crawford home, the 1040 shows the Chicago post office box of the trust company that handles the Bush family finances.

Dixie_chicks_cd I immediately wondered if this meant Natalie Maines would finally be free of the president's Texas association and that the state of Illinois would get a bit of tax revenue from housing, at least for tax purposes, him within its borders. Apparently not, though, as indicated by the Bushes' Texas property and sales tax deductions.

As for that official filing address, I checked out page 16 of the Form 1040 booklet. The instructions say, "Enter your box number only if your post office does not deliver mail to your home."

I guess Crawford mail deliverers got tired of maneuvering past protesters!


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

The comments to this entry are closed.