Saturday, November 23, 2013

Doing business elsewhere for tax benefits not legal; why should it be acceptable for electoral purposes?

Perhaps I’m the only person who finds it ironic we learned this week that the wife of now-U.S. Senate candidate James Oberweis specifically moved out of Illinois for tax purposes at the same time that the Supreme Court of Illinois ruled against business interests that tried to pull off a similar maneuver.

OBERWEIS: Still Illinoisan, but not spouse
Specifically, the court ruled that the companies that deliberately tried to evade paying Cook County tax rates by locating an office in some low-tax rate rural county were behaving improperly.

THOSE COMPANIES ARE now going to have to start admitting that they’re Chicago-area businesses and pay the local tax rate. No more trying to claim they’re Kankakee-area companies!

So what should we think of Julie Oberweis, who apparently officially moved to Florida three years ago and has taken actions to set herself  up as a Florida resident who just happens to spend time in Illinois – where her state Senate member husband still claims his residency.

When the word got out earlier this week (reported by the Chicago Sun-Times), it brought up an issue that is bound to be used over and over during the upcoming campaign season by those wishing to trash the man who is making his third attempt to run for the U.S. Senate.

Oberweis admits his wife did the move so she could qualify for lesser tax rates on her income.

SHE’S JUST LIKE the companies that try to create a rural office for themselves (in some cases, just a little storefront used to maintain an address, while all the real work is done at the so-called subsidiary office in the Chicago area).

It comes across as an attempt to dodge taxes. Which many of us would regard as someone thinking they’re not supposed to pay their fair share.

Ct said businesses can't claim fake offices
Except to those with the corporate mentality who honestly believe their fair share is nothing – and that any government official who can’t accept that viewpoint is “anti-business.”

Personally, I’m not terribly offended by the Oberweis maneuver – so long as the letter of the law is complied with strictly.

IF THEY WANT to go through the hassle of filing separate state tax returns (he in Illinois and she in Florida), that’s their business. Their federal return is a joint effort, according to the Sun-Times. But it has to be prepared to acknowledge their split life.

DURBIN: Will he use tax issue in campaign?
I believe it’s a lot more effort than its worth, just because one wants to believe they’re being over-taxed in Illinois and they don’t want to pay the going rate. And if there's even one technical slip-up, the feds will be sure to get themselves involved.

Which I honestly believe is because one gets more benefits from being in Illinois, and in the Chicago-area portion of the state. You get what you pay for. Places that go out of their way to boast of their low tax rates usually offer up next-to-nothing for their local residents and corporate interests.

Take the tax avoidance situation.

A COMPANY SUCH as Hartney Fuel Oil, Co., which tried claiming it was based in Mark, Ill., rather than its real corporate offices in suburban Forest View, wouldn’t hesitate to ACTUALLY move to Mark (population, 550) if they thought they could gain real benefits or savings from being located in the Putnam County village.

It will be intriguing to see how this particular issue plays out, and if it will be added to the litany of gaffes Oberweis (the candidate, not the spouse) has made in past campaigns. A helicopter circling Soldier Field, anyone?!? Will she have to “move” back to Illinois so her husband can run, yet again, for federal office?

One other point should be made. Oberweis tried to minimize the idea of his wife being a Florida resident by implying that Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., has the same situation – his spouse, Loretta, is a lobbyist in Springfield.

Except that, technically, so is Durbin, the senator, whose D.C. living situation is that of the famed four Congress-members who live in a grungy frat-house style home (inspiring the new program “Alpha House”) because they’d rather not maintain real homes in the District of Columbia along with their REAL houses back home.


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