On Monday, we learned that US Senator Claire McCaskill failed to pay property taxes on her personal luxury jet for three years. Previously, she had charged taxpayers some of the cost of operating her private plane. Before that, it seems, she registered the plane in property tax-free Delaware.
On Monday, Claire wrote a $287,000 check without batting an eye. Now, St. Louis County says she owes them another $33,000 in interest and penalties, for a total bill of $320,000.
Then on Wednesday, we learned that small business owner, Chip Wood, the Republican candidate for County Assessor, owes $12k in property taxes on his business in the city. Wood told KMOX that, with the collapse of the real estate market, his company had to choose among the mounting bills to pay. Apparently, Wood’s company chose to pay health insurance, rent, and wages to his employees, hoping to catch up on taxes when things turned around.
By keeping his business open, he will pay the city every penny it’s owed. And the depopulating city of St. Louis is spared yet another empty storefront.
Not only is this a difference in degree, it’s a difference in kind. The difference here is not so obvious, but it is profound:
* Chip Wood made a difficult economic choice to try to save his business and pay his people with every intention of making the city whole** Claire McCaskill hired a team of accountants and lawyers to shield her from every possible tax, and amidst their dodging, dipping, diving, ducking, and dodging they dropped a $287,000 property tax bill. Oops!
Not all tax stories are equal. I trust that reasonable people realize that a businessman fighting to keep his doors open and his employees employed is different from a millionaire fighting to fly her luxury jet for free.
P.S. On April 5, I will L. K. Wood, as everyone should, for County Assessor. He’s the only qualified person in the race.