Gov. Rod Blagojevich said Tuesday it's "ridiculous" to suggest he might owe taxes for personal use of state aircraft.Heh, sometimes I wonder if it was him that was spending money, then there's a good chance he might try to cut down on some of these expenses. Instead he might be taking advantage of the poor little taxpayer who he purports to fight for. Makes you wonder who he really cares about.
The Associated Press reported this week that Blagojevich, his family and guests have taken hundreds of flights on taxpayer-financed airplanes with no clear business purpose. Tax experts said the Internal Revenue Service could consider the flights taxable fringe benefits.
The AP review estimated the value of the flights could add at least $225,000 to Blagojevich's income and leave him with a tax bill of $60,000 or more.
"That is the most ridiculous thing that's ever been written," Blagojevich told reporters at a Tuesday appearance in Mattoon.
He did not answer a reporter's question about whether he had ever spoken to a tax attorney about the matter or whether he would do so now.
Congress has cracked down on personal use of company aircraft in the past two decades, and several government executives have faced questions about state-financed flights. They include former Virginia Gov. Douglas Wilder, former Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Jane Swift, and former Arizona Gov. Jane Hull.
Blagojevich's own lieutenant governor, Pat Quinn, said it would make sense for Blagojevich to seek an outside expert's advice.
"The best way to go is for the governor to have a sophisticated tax lawyer take a look at the issue and answer any, any questions," Quinn said Monday.
Tax experts told the AP the IRS likely would consider Blagojevich's principal place of business to be Springfield, the seat of state government. That means anytime he flies to his hometown Chicago with no job-related event planned, it's a personal flight and he either must reimburse the state or pay taxes on the value as income.
But Blagojevich aides said the analysis is flawed because the governor's main office is in Chicago, not the Capitol.
The Illinois Department of Revenue, which could collect state tax revenue if Blagojevich were found liable for the trips, agrees with the governor. General counsel John McCaffrey told the AP last week that the governor's base of operations is Chicago, so "his travel to Springfield was all for legitimate business reasons."
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