Franken Pays $70,000 in Back Taxes to 17 States
Al Franken accidentally forgot to pay $70,000 in taxes to 17 states over the past five years.
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Al Franken, front-runner in the race to challenge Republican U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, said on Tuesday that he has paid $70,000 in back taxes and penalties owed in 17 states, going back to 2003.
Franken, who has earned income across the country for celebrity appearances and speeches, blamed his accountant of 18 years for failing to pay the appropriate taxes owed in each state. The accountant, Allen Chanzis of New York, “just made a basic kind of error that had a lot of ramifications,” Franken said. Franken said that he paid federal and state taxes on all of his income, but that the accountant had failed to properly distribute the tax payments.
In addition to sending all the checks to one place, the accountant apparently didn’t realize that you have to dissolve corporations that are no longer in operation if you don’t want them to continue to have tax liabilities. Oops.
I’m no great fan of Franken but this explanation strikes me as quite plausible. People who make that kind of money hire accountants and sign where they’re told and write out whatever checks are necessary. Due diligence tends to involve a quick scan to make sure nothing’s obviously out of whack.
Further, it’s completely ridiculous that a resident of Minnesota would owe state taxes simply because he gave a speech elsewhere. The accounting burden alone for such a policy is a nightmare. Then again, a lot of municipalities have started collecting taxes on commuters and, more recently, on visiting professional athletes. How that’s enforceable, I don’t know, but it is.
Most early commenters on this are less forgiving:
- Karl @ PW weighs in with “Al Franken is a bigger, fatter tax deadbeat.”
- Ed Morrissey believes it was likely an honest mistake but “he just didn’t care enough” to pay attention. And, “he wants Minnesotans to believe that he cares about their concerns when he didn’t care enough about his own business to run it properly.”
- Sean Hackbarth quips, “Ah, tossing the accountant under the bus. At least it wasn’t his grandmother.”
- John Hinderaker charges “Franken is either a scofflaw or an incompetent.”