No grass growing under Senator Charles Grassley’s feet as he
moves quickly to stamp out a tax break for façade easements. The senator nodded
off peacefully as Bush rammed through a trillion and a half break to his
constituents (I define a Bush constituent as anyone bilking more than a hundred
grand a year from the rest of us) but this boot-licking by the IRS of the
middle-rich has got to stop.
The easement thing (see Dec 13th “Tax Crafting”)
makes some sense to me because it provides an incentive to not tear down some
quite valuable architecture.
Anyway, Grassley and Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat side
of this fearless twosome, are gonna make sure property owners and promoters are
“fined” for these “undue tax
deductions.” Except they’re not undue. They’re part of the tax code,
admittedly a foggy and difficult document and have been since 1996. Virtually
no one took advantage of this opportunity in its early years because it was not
well known and the proper registrations and assessments were a minefield of
paperwork. Gee, what a surprise.
So, some entrepreneurial types got involved pushing the
paper for fees, because some of these permitted and absolutely legal breaks
were substantial and it is the most American of American traits to cash in
whenever opportunity knocks. Enter the Washington Post with an article
(actually several) by Joe Stephens on December 13th, followed by my
incredibly swift appraisal on the same date. I can only presume that my incredibly
swift and incisive blog didn’t stir Grassley and Baucus into action, but
something sure did.
Perhaps it was the idea of some ordinary citizen actually
getting a break.
Joe Stephens followed up on the senatorial outrage
and, patient old hound that I am, I continue to follow Joe. Is the Senate
Finance Committee so stunned into compliance these days that it can’t find
better work to do than this? Charlie! Joe! Are there no windows to wash?