Thursday, December 23, 2004

Quick to Denounce the Wrong Issues

No grass growing under Senator Charles Grassley’s feet as he moves quickly to stamp out a tax break for façade easements. The senator nodded off peacefully as Bush rammed through a trillion and a half break to his constituents (I define a Bush constituent as anyone bilking more than a hundred grand a year from the rest of us) but this boot-licking by the IRS of the middle-rich has got to stop.

The easement thing (see Dec 13th “Tax Crafting”) makes some sense to me because it provides an incentive to not tear down some quite valuable architecture.

Anyway, Grassley and Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat side of this fearless twosome, are gonna make sure property owners and promoters are “fined” for these “undue tax deductions.” Except they’re not undue. They’re part of the tax code, admittedly a foggy and difficult document and have been since 1996. Virtually no one took advantage of this opportunity in its early years because it was not well known and the proper registrations and assessments were a minefield of paperwork. Gee, what a surprise.

So, some entrepreneurial types got involved pushing the paper for fees, because some of these permitted and absolutely legal breaks were substantial and it is the most American of American traits to cash in whenever opportunity knocks. Enter the Washington Post with an article (actually several) by Joe Stephens on December 13th, followed by my incredibly swift appraisal on the same date. I can only presume that my incredibly swift and incisive blog didn’t stir Grassley and Baucus into action, but something sure did.

Perhaps it was the idea of some ordinary citizen actually getting a break.

Joe Stephens followed up on the senatorial outrage and, patient old hound that I am, I continue to follow Joe. Is the Senate Finance Committee so stunned into compliance these days that it can’t find better work to do than this? Charlie! Joe! Are there no windows to wash?

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