Tom Reed Isn’t the Only Member of Congress With Tax Woes

Rep. Tom Reed, House Freshmen hold press conference urging senate to pass full year extension of payroll tax cuts
National Journal
Ben Terris
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Ben Terris
Aug. 19, 2013, 11:38 a.m.

Re­pub­lic­an Rep. Tom Reed isn’t great at pay­ing his taxes. Over the week­end, a story from The Buf­falo News re­por­ted that the New York law­maker has been late 38 times pay­ing his prop­erty taxes since 2005. Hav­ing paid $3,486.51 in late fees, Reed is now on the right side of the law, but as a mem­ber of the com­mit­tee that ac­tu­ally writes tax law it’s more than em­bar­rass­ing.

At least he has plenty of com­pany. For it turns out that sev­er­al mem­bers of Con­gress aren’t so in­to writ­ing that check to the gov­ern­ment. Be­low are just a few ex­amples. (And no, these are not acts of Thor­eau­vi­an civil dis­obedi­ence or liber­tari­an an­ti­tax protests.)

1) Re­pub­lic­an Rep. Jon Run­yan of New Jer­sey earned mil­lions of dol­lars (and a repu­ta­tion as a “dirty play­er”) as a line­man in the NFL. That didn’t stop him from be­ing late on 33 prop­erty-tax pay­ments. But that’s not even his most not­able tax is­sue (or at least not his strangest). For years, Run­yan has had a hand­ful of mini­ature don­keys graz­ing on his prop­erty, help­ing him avoid pay­ing the full tax rate on 20 out of his 23 acres of land.

2) Earli­er this year WMUR in New Hamp­shire re­por­ted that Demo­crat­ic Rep. Ann McLane Kuster owed nearly $11,000 in late prop­erty-tax bills. The tele­vi­sion sta­tion also noted that Kuster has been de­lin­quent on more than $40,000 in prop­erty taxes over the past three years. And it’s not be­cause she’s poor. The Cen­ter of Re­spons­ive Polit­ics es­tim­ated her net worth to be around $1.8 mil­lion.

3) Rep. Jim Ren­acci, R-Ohio, has been dogged by his fair share of tax is­sues over the years. The former car sales­man was as­sessed nearly $1.4 mil­lion in un­paid state taxes, in­terest, and fees in 2006, ac­cord­ing to the As­so­ci­ated Press. Last year, Ren­acci’s op­pon­ent former Rep. Betty Sut­ton made a big deal of the Re­pub­lic­an’s at­tempt to “avoid pay­ing taxes on nearly $14 mil­lion” (it­al­ics ours), a state­ment that was rated “true” by Poli­ti­fact.

4) Rep. Vern Buchanan of Flor­ida may be the cham­pi­on of IRS prob­lems in the House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives. Between 1994 and 2002 the Re­pub­lic­an found him­self in the midst of a tax fight that ended up cost­ing him about $2.5 mil­lion ($1.2 mil­lion for what he ori­gin­ally owed, plus an­oth­er $1.3 in late fees and in­terest). Buchanan has also found him­self swim­ming in an al­pha­bet soup of in­vest­ig­at­ing of­fices over the years (DOJ, FBI, IRS, FEC).

5) Fel­low Flor­idi­an Rep. Steve South­er­land too has been late on his fair share. The Re­pub­lic­an’s com­pany Ma­chrise paid prop­erty taxes on a num­ber of prop­er­ties late at least 27 times from 1995 to 2012.

Cor­rec­tion: WMUR is a telev­sion sta­tion, not a ra­dio sta­tion. 

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