Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Returns Have Returned

Ah, Taxes!! This former IRS agent is once again posting about taxes.

The Tax History Project has posted some Presidential Tax Returns on one of its webpages. (Caution: They are PDF files, and they are long downloads). In addition to FDR, Nixon, Carter, Bush I and Clinton, they have the current Bush II & VP Dick Cheney. Now, they also have Barack Hussein Obama and Joe Biden, and some of McCain's. Sarah Palin has promised to release her tax returns soon, and Tax Analysts, the sponsors of the Tax History Project, has promised to post Sarah's there when they become available.

This posting will show the statistics in the following format:

Year: Charitable Contributions / Adjusted Gross Income (Charitable contributions as percentage of AGI)


2007: $240,370 / $4,139,965 (5.8%)
2006: $60,307 / $983,826 (6.1%)
2005: $77,315 / $1,655,106 (4.7%)
2004: $2,500 / $207,647 (1.2%)
2003: $3,400 / $238,327 (1.2%)
2002: $1,050 / $259,394 (0.4%)
2001: $1,470 / $272,759 (0.5%)
2000: $2,350 / $240,505 (1.0%)


2007: $995 * / $319,853 (0.3%)
2006: $380 / $248,459 (0.2%)
2005: $380 / $321,379 (0.1%)
2004: $380 / $244,271 (0.2%)
2003: $260 / $231,375 (0.1%)
2002: $260 / $277,811 (0.1%)
2001: $360 / $220,712 (0.2%)
2000: $360 / $219,953 (0.2%)

* Joe Biden's 2007 charitable contributions consisted of $595 cash + $400 other property.


2007: $105,467 / $386,527 (27.3%)
2006: $96,758 ** / $338,809 (28.6%)

** John McCain's 2006 charitable contributions include a $32,063 carryover from a prior year.


2006: $569,737 / $6,066,431 (9.4%)

My comments on the foregoing statistics (in no particular order):

1. Within the past week alone, I drew more checks to charitable organizations than Joe Biden did in all of 2006 and 2007 combined. Being that this is Rosh HaShanah season, there will, no doubt, be more drawn within the next 2 weeks.

2. Unless Biden is doing some significant charitable works off the books, his charitable giving habits are a disgrace! There are households which are really, really, poor, but which give way more than he does in any given year.

3. Notice the difference in Barack Hussein Obama's charitable giving habits after he became a national idol in 2004. Prior to 2004, his charitable giving habits were rather disgraceful (though a little bit more honorable than Biden's). If this is just Obama getting religion, then I welcome Barack into the camp of the charitable donors. The real test is what kind of charitable donations will he make at such time as he no longer is bucking for the public approval in the voting booth. Given the entitlement attitude of Barack (and, even more so, Michelle), I'm not willing to bet that he will not revert to his pre-2004 charitable giving patterns.

4. For the purposes of this posting, I shall not concern myself with the political or religious or social orientation of the donee organizations which received the various candidates' charitable bounties. The only question is whether and how much they gave. In a certain sense, I can respect BHO's contributions to his spiritual advisor Jeremiah Wright's Church of Hate Whitey & G-ddamn America more than Biden's extreme overprotectiveness of his own funds.

5. John McCain's situation is somewhat different from Joe Biden's and BHO's because he and Cindy filed separate returns. This is an option which married couples have, and, given the McCains' situation, I think it was well-advised.

6. Cindy McCain's 2006 tax return has been disclosed. Where's her 2007? I do not know about Cindy's personal 2007 tax affairs, but I do know that she, like everyone else, can get an extention to 15 August for the asking, and another one until 15 October if she can show good cause (which is not difficult to do). My guess: She might not have even filed it yet.

7. The McCains have a McCain Family Foundation in their financial picture. The Foundation's returns for 2006 and 2007 have been disclosed and are posted on the website. The Foundation is the recipient of John and Cindy's charitable contributions. The Foundation distributed $182,639 to various charitable causes in 2006, and $78,250 in 2007. I note that neither John nor Cindy (nor anyone else) received any compensation or employee benefits from the Foundation; some private foundations do confer such benefits upon their contributors (or friends and relatives thereof).

8. The McCain Family Foundation had a little problem with the IRS. Seems that it contributed $5,000 to what was initially thought to be a general education fund, but which turned out to be a private fund to pay for the college education of some deceased person's children. The Foundation was charged a 20% excise tax ($1,000) for the transaction. The Foundation's Director requested John and Cindy to reimburse the Foundation the $6,000 in non-charitable distributions related to the transaction. In the general scheme of things, that little error is analogous to receiving a ticket for overtime parking. I do not impute any negativity of character to McCain on account of it.

9. And likewise, Obama's tax returns reflect penalties for not fully paying the estimated tax. I just cannot get upset over it because it is often difficult to predict what your required estimated tax payment should be until after you owe it. This is more a failing of the Internal Revenue Code than of Barack Hussein Obama.

10. Given my criticisms of the various candidates, I shall disclose my own household's charitable habits: Our charitable contributions tend to run just a bit above 7% of our AGI. If you subtract from our AGI the Federal and State income taxes we pay, and the Social Security & Medicare deductions taken from our paychecks, and the union dues which are maced from us by the public employees unions to which my wife and I respectively belong, our deductions come to a bit more than 10% of our take-home income. In fact, we have a second checking account at our bank, and whenever we deposit the paychecks or my legal fees or any other income, we skim off 10% into the second account, from which we write our charitable checks.

And some of our charitable contributions are not claimed (or claimable) as deductions. The small change I deposit into the pushke at whichever shul I go to daven, and, this year, the wad of money (approximately $100 U.S. dollar equivalent) I distributed to various poor people in the Holy City of Jerusalem when we were there.

11. And what of Sarah Palin's tax return? What interesting facts and factoids will it tell us? I do not know, but if her charitable giving habits are anywhere near as paltry as Joe Biden's (or, for that matter, pre-2005 Obama), then she deserves whatever negative criticism she receives. If the government is to encourage a strong charitable sector, then the government leaders must personally set the public example.

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  • At 16 October, 2008 15:05, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Nice to see a "recovering" democrat. ;-)

    If you'd like to join us at www.boomfox.com/forum you'd be more then welcome.

    Hope to see you there!


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