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Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Buffoonish Post (And Comments) of the Day

From a tax law professor no less:

It appears that the VP is a major beneficiary of the Hurricane Katrina tax relief act. In particular, he claimed $6.8 million of charitable deductions, which is 77% of his AGI -- well in excess of the 50% limitation that would have applied absent the Katrina legislation. The press release indicates that the charitable contribution reflects the amount of net proceeds from an independent administrator's exercise of the VP's Halliburton options -- apparently, the VP had agreed back in 2001 that he would donate the net proceeds from the options to charities once they were exercised.

The press release seems to confirm, at least implicitly, the VP's efforts to take advantage of the Katrina legislation -- it mentions that the Cheneys wrote a personal check of $2.3 million to the administrator in December in order to "maximize the charitable gifts in 2005." Admittedly, I don't know anything about the transactions beyond the info in the press release, but my gut reaction is that the personal check was given in order to make sure the independent administrator had sufficient liquid assets to pay all of the promised charitable contributions before the 50% limit returned on 1/1/06.

Despite the importance of the Katrina legislation to his tax return, it looks like none of the charitable contributions actually went to Katrina-related charities (the press release lists the 3 charitable recipients, all of which were designated in the original 2001 gift agreement). While there's nothing inappropriate about that from a legal perspective, it does demonstrate how the legislation, which was sold to the public as providing relief to Katrina victims, provided significant tax benefits to the VP (and potentially other wealthy individuals) in situations that have nothing to do with Hurricane Katrina.

Yeah, that nasty Dick Cheney, donating too much of his money to charity! He should be more like Al Gore, who donated $353 in 1997. Or Bill Clinton, who donated his used underwear.

Let's work out some of the numbers. If $6.8 million is 77% of Cheney's AGI, then then AGI must be somewhere around $8.8 million. If he wrote a special check for $2.3 million, then his charitable contributions before that check were about $4.5 million, right around the old limit. So the whole reason Cheney exceeded the old limit is that he wrote out a big check to charity. And we're supposed to be outraged?

But the real comedy is in the comments:

Why is this man not in jail?

Posted by: Beverly Hill | Apr 17, 2006 11:53:22 PM

How does this guy sleep at night? This administration makes me sick to my stomach. They are sooooo corrupt.

Posted by: Kathleen | Apr 18, 2006 2:05:12 PM

This administration has no shame.
They are "do as I say, not as I do" people

Posted by: Bob Sanderson | Apr 18, 2006 2:09:15 PM

REPREHENSIBLE, totally devoid of any moral values, ...a true, dyed-in-the-wool Robber Baron.

Posted by: tony | Apr 18, 2006 2:10:41 PM

We need a perp-walk, and we need it now.

Posted by: L. Kern | Apr 18, 2006 2:22:38 PM

Yep, that's right, the readers want to put Cheney in jail for donating too much to charity.

Hat Tip: Blogsnow
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