Monday, September 15, 2008
Mr. Rangel has hurt his case with clumsy, combative pleas of ignorance of the facts and law involving his Dominican villa. “We do make errors, even though we consider ourselves experts in terms of tax policy for the nation,” said the lawmaker, who has three decades’ experience on Ways and Means.
His excuse of “cultural and language barriers” with Dominican officials was, simply, offensive. “Every time I thought I was getting somewhere, they’d start speaking Spanish,” complained Mr. Rangel. At the least, the disclosures betray that gross sense of entitlement that regularly befalls politicians.
Today's Wall Street Journal has a wry take, The Education of Charlie Rangel:
House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel of New York admitted last week that in recent years he has underpaid his taxes by about $10,000. Republicans are demanding that he step down as chairman pending an Ethics Committee investigation, but we're more sympathetic. Charlie is a victim of the tax code he helped to write.
His lawyer says Mr. Rangel flubbed his tax return by failing to record some $75,000 of rental income he received from a beach house he owns at a posh Dominican Republic resort. Mr. Rangel professes to have made an honest mistake, and says "I personally feel that I have done nothing morally wrong." He explained that he didn't know how much income he received from the property because his Dominican business partners would "start speaking Spanish."
Plenty of Americans know how he feels since the IRS tax form might as well be in Spanish. The tax code now runs to some 67,000 pages, and Mr. Rangel has probably written a few thousand himself in his 38 years on Capitol Hill. If even the nation's top tax writer can't figure out what to declare as income, and what not to declare, how can the rest of us be expected to get it right?
Press and blogosphere coverage:
- Associated Press: More Errors for Rangel; Hires New Accountant
- New York Daily News: Rep. Charlies Rangel's Got More Financial Mistakes
- New York Post: Rangel Wrangles With the Truth
- Philadelphia Inquirer (editorial): Rangel's Tax Problems
- Washington Post (editorial): Going After Charlie Rangel