Bryan T. Camp, a professor of Law, has analyzed the Palins' tax returns for 2006 and 2007. Here he points out five issues:
(1) The Palins did not report as income some $17,000 that Governor Palin’s employer (the State of Alaska) paid her as an “allowance” for her travel. Can they do that? Yes, most likely.
(2) The Palins did not report as income some $43,000 that the State of Alaska paid the Governor as an “allowance” for her husband and children’s travel. Can they do that? No, most likely not.
(3) The Palins deducted $9,000 on their 2007 return, claiming it was a loss from Mr. Palin’s snow machine racing activity. Can they do that? Most likely not, but more info could make the deduction o.k.
If any of the above issues goes against the Palins they then risk getting hit with the section 6662 penalty for “negligence or disregard of rules or regulations.”
(4) Can the Palins avoid the section 6662 negligence penalty by claiming that they reasonably relied either (a) on the W-2’s sent to them by their employer, which did not reflect either the $17,000 or the $43,000, or (b) on their tax return preparer H&R Block, or (c) on Mr. Olsen’s opinion letter dated September 30, 2008? The three reliance defenses are unlikely to succeed, but more info may make the (b) defense a good one.
For the following point, understand that Mr. Olsen is the Palins' tax lawyer.
(5) Does Mr. Olsen have any exposure to sanctions by the IRS because of his letter? I believe Mr. Olsen’s letter probably violates 31 C.F.R. section 10.35. If so, he would be exposed to possible sanctions from the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility.
Just click on the link to read more. Bryan Camp has written a very engaging and accessible paper. He concludes:
In sum, Mr. Olsen’s letter may be a brilliant political ploy. But it is a sorry excuse for a legal opinion on the tax consequences of the travel allowance problems in the Palin’s returns.
I guess the Palins really are anti-tax.