The fact that liberal opinion writer Cindi Ross Scoppe (a.k.a. “Pippi Wrongstockings”) is ripping into GOP gubernatorial nominee Nikki Haley isn’t surprising … that’s her modus operandi in general elections, people. Rip the Republican. Just like her m.o. in GOP primaries is to rip the conservative.
What is surprising? The fact that Haley deserves it …
Like us here at FITS, Scoppe initially chose to ignore the furor over Haley’s repeated tardiness in paying her taxes – not because she was passing up an opportunity to pop Haley on another hypocrisy (she wouldn’t do that), but because she just assumed that it was a routine matter of “missing a couple of deadlines.”
Then she started digging:
What I discovered was that most of the people talking about the Haleys’ tax returns either don’t know what they’re talking about or are deliberately trying to mislead people. And while we in the media could have done a better job explaining the facts, Ms. Haley has been going out of her way to contribute to this misunderstanding, as when she insisted in a recent interview with WLTX: “We’ve paid our taxes. We filed extensions in doing so, and did nothing wrong.”
The problem wasn’t that the Haleys sought and received extensions. It is in fact quite common for people to get a six-month extension to file their tax returns. But as the IRS makes clear, the extension applies only to the return, not to the tax payment itself. Taxes are always due by April 15 — at the latest. The Haleys have not paid their taxes by April 15 in any of the past five years. (No taxes were due in 2004, the first year for which they released their income taxes.)
Even more significantly, the extension gives people only until Oct. 15 to file. The Haleys filed their 2005 tax returns on July 30, 2007 — eight months after the extended deadline. They filed their 2006 tax returns on July 23, 2008 — also eight months after the extended deadline. Their 2007 returns were filed Nov. 5, 2008, just a few days after the extended deadline. (Their 2004, 2008 and 2009 returns were filed after April 15, but before Oct. 15, so the IRS doesn’t consider them late.)
Now, in my book, anytime you have to pay the government a penalty, you’ve done something wrong, and the Haleys have paid the IRS $4,452 in penalties in the past five years — $2,853 for filing late, and $1,599 for paying late.
Having laid out the scope of the situation, Scoppe proceeds to slam Haley for trying to turn the issue into some sort of reflection on her fiscal conservatism (since her “skill as an accountant” shtick is clearly not quite the selling point it once was).
… the biggest stretch is the way Ms. Haley has sought to spin her income tax problem into a virtue. She talks about how she and her husband fell upon tough economic times and cut back on their spending and learned to live within their means, which she says demonstrates what a fiscally responsible governor she would be. It seems to me that her actions demonstrate just the opposite.
The Haleys didn’t pay their taxes late once or twice, when things were bad; they paid their taxes late in every one of the past five years — not just in 2006, when their income dropped by half, but also in 2005 when it was going up, and in 2007, 2008 and 2009, when it was going up substantially, topping out at nearly $200,000 last year.
In closing, Scoppe rattles off a list of things that could have led to Haley’s lax tax filings. They include “poor organizational skills,” the “inability to delegate authority” and a “disregard for the laws the rest of us have to obey.”
Ouch, ouch and ouch!
Clearly, Scoppe’s opinions need to be taken with an ocean of salt. She’s 99.9 percent wrong 99.9 percent of the time on 99.9 percent of the issues facing this state – habitually endorsing bigger government and more taxpayer spending as the solution to problems both real and imagined.
Having said that, she’s got Nikki Haley’s number on this particular issue …