Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Al Franken, Al Capone

It's the taxes, stupid!

There are so many cases of rich people stumbling when it comes to paying taxes.

It was tax evasion that finally brought the infamous Al Capone down.

More recently, the Wesley Snipes case comes to mind.

Now, we have Al Franken.

U.S. Senate candidate, comedian, author, former radio talk show host on the abysmal Air America, and former cokehead Franken has tax problems.

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Senate candidate Al Franken, dogged by accusations that he failed to file tax returns in California, said Tuesday he will pay about $70,000 in back income taxes in 17 states dating to 2003.

Most of the income at issue was from speeches and other paid appearances by the comedian-turned candidate, who said he got bad advice from his accountant but takes responsibility for the errors.

The Minnesota Democrat told The Associated Press that he and his wife, Franni, "paid taxes on every cent of income we ever had." He said that during the years in question, he followed the accountant's advice and paid his entire income tax bill to the city and state where he lived at the time. He lived in New York City from 2003-05 and Minnesota in 2006.

"What happened is our accountant made a mistake, and all of these are repercussions of that same mistake," said Franken. "His mistake was not understanding the law, the obligation to pay these state taxes."

Franken said his finances became more complicated when he branched out from "Saturday Night Live" and started writing books and making speeches around the country.

His communications director, Andy Barr, said none of the 17 states attempted to contact Franken or his accountant seeking the unpaid personal income taxes.

Franken said once the payments to the states are settled, he would seek retroactive credit from his states of residence since much of the income taxes he paid to them was supposed to go instead to the 17 other states.

Franken has been preparing for a tough fight against incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., but his campaign has been sidetracked in recent weeks by bookkeeping errors related to his private corporation, Alan Franken Inc.

The campaign said last month it would pay a $25,000 fine to the state of New York for failure to carry workers' compensation insurance there.

Franken wants to paint himself as a victim. It's the accountant's fault. (It always is.)

So an accountant gave him bad advice. That does happen, but it seems that Franken is a magnet for bad financial advice.

Franken vows to pay the $70,000 in back taxes. Problem solved, right?

I don't know.

Legitimate questions arise when an individual is caught again and again making errors related to finances. No doubt, his backers will defend him and they'll give him a pass. I'm not so sure about swing voters.

Some good advice for the good people of Minnesota: Don't elect Al Franken to represent you in the Senate.

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