Monday, January 24, 2011
Actor Alec Baldwin has joined a list of elite New Yorkers targeted by tax collectors who think they're fibbing about where they really live to dodge New York City income taxes.
Facing shrinking revenues, the state has ramped up its pursuit of suspected tax dodgers, hiring 189 new auditors and -- for the first time -- making filers swear under oath on tax forms as to how many days they "spend in New York City." If it's more than 183 days and the filer has a residence in the city, the tax bill goes up.
Baldwin, star of NBC's "30 Rock," owns a three-bedroom co-op on Central Park West, a house in the Hamptons and a pad near his daughter in Los Angeles. He spends lots of time in the city doing the show, but claims the Hamptons as home base. That made him one of hundreds of people slapped with an audit in 2009. ...
Such audits require taxpayers to assemble an arsenal of documents -- credit card receipts, bank, telephone and computer records -- to prove where they were on specific days. ... Brad Maione, a spokesman for the state Department of Taxation and Finance, said officials completed 2,273 audits involving residency challenges in the fiscal year ending March 30, 2009. That's 9% above the previous year. ...
Not everyone loses, though. Billionaire hedge-fund investor Julian Robertson, who owns a co-op in the city but claims to work fewer than 184 days here, was challenged over residency for the year 2000. At a hearing, he produced an assistant who kept detailed records contending Robertson spent just 182 days in the city. The panel voted 2-to-1 to give him the benefit of the doubt -- saving him $27 million. [TaxProf Blog coverage here, here, and here.]
Consider what Baldwin wrote in the Huffington Post four years ago in a piece he titled Tax Cuts and the Republican Legacy:
These tax cuts are not only to make Bush's wealthiest supporters richer, they are intended to hurt less powerful Americans by killing many of the social programs they depend on. That is the legacy of this Republican-controlled Congress. To hurt those who aren't wealthy enough to write Bush-Cheney a big check. I urge all Americans to keep that in mind during this election cycle. A Republican-controlled Congress is killing important social programs that we all depend on, so that Bush's friends can avoid paying a reasonable share of their taxes. ....
So, according to the News, Baldwin might be claiming residency in the Hamptons to evade New York City taxes. But four years ago, the "30 Rock" star encouraged people to give generously to Democrats in the midterm elections so that Republicans could be ousted from Congress and taxes raised.