By now, I'm sure you know that Sen. Ted Stevens has been indicted. But what's not in the formal charges, from a tax perspective, is quite interesting.
The crusty Republican is his party's longest-serving senator and most famous, or infamous if you live in one of the other 49 states, for, you pick:
- His efforts on behalf of the Alaska's "bridge to nowhere," or
- His rambling description of the Internet as a series of tubes.
Now, as his political career winds down much faster than he expected, Stevens faces seven counts of falsely reporting hundreds of thousands of dollars in services he received from a company that helped renovate his home.
Katherine Rizzo, in the Wall Street Journal's Political Perceptions blog, writes: "It’s been compared to Al Capone being brought down by tax evasion. But it’s almost more fascinating — and tragic — because this involves a public servant, not a gangster."
And fellow tax blogger Joe Kristan, who writes the Tax Update items for Roth & Company, P.C., wonders Where are the Tax Charges?
The indictment handed up by a federal grand jury in Washington formally accuses Stevens of violating a federal law that requires elected officials to be open about what they own and how they get their money. Allegedly, Stevens kept quiet about hundreds of thousands of dollars in "gifts" from Veco, a now defunct oil and construction company.
So Kristan wants to know:
If [Stevens] accepted the goodies as alleged, it would be a stretch to say that they were gifts, which can be excluded from taxable income, rather than taxable bribes. Unless VECO gives hundreds of thousands of dollars of presents to other old guys in Alaska who aren't public officials, of course.
Since IRS agents were involved in searches of Stevens' home early in the investigation (blogged about here), I suspect Kristan is on to something when he suggests that the Feds are holding possible tax charges in reserve just in case the outcome of this indictment isn't to their liking.