Income tax

Polis aggressively avoided federal income tax and tried to hide it


The revelations that Governor Jared Polis paid no federal income taxes in 2013, 2014 and 2015 seemed like a punch.

We knew Polis, a wealthy business owner who lives in Boulder County, had gone years without paying federal income tax. The Denver Post reported on tax documents it released in 2008 while running for Congress.

But we didn’t know how far he had gone to avoid paying his fair share of taxes.

Now that we know that, that throws everything in a different light.

We came to regret the 2018 editorial with a headline that read “We know Polis didn’t dodge taxes because he released his tax returns.” In this editorial, we have defended Polis against attack ads focused on his tax history. What a mistake.

It turns out that Polis may not have broken any laws with his aggressive tax avoidance, but he certainly made some ethically questionable decisions.

These decisions make us feel duped by a man who served in Congress for years, in a position where he could have argued for tax shelter reform that unfairly eliminates the tax obligations of the rich while Americans in the middle class pay a higher percentage of their earnings, and sometimes even a higher amount, to the federal government.

Polis remained silent.

Even after ProPublica released a scathing analysis of his tax evasion, Polis is not transparent about the tools he used to eliminate his tax burden so Congress can fix it or more Coloradians can ignore their bills as well. tax using these tips.

It’s the cover-up that makes us so disappointed, coupled with the fact that we trusted him and stood up for him.

So how can Polis make things right?

He can start by detailing all the ways he avoids federal, state, and local taxes. Then he can work hand in hand with the Colorado congressional delegation and the state legislature to fill those gaps. Transparency is the only way to right this wrong, in fact politicians around the world should take note that it is far better to be open and honest about tax evasion than to try to deceive the public.

First, Polis should open his foundation’s files to detail the charitable work he has or has not done over the past decade. We think the IRS should start looking at the foundations of multimillionaires to determine how much charitable work they do versus how much tax shelter they serve.

Second, Polis needs to come up with concrete ideas on how to prevent millionaires from abusing business loss deductions. ProPublica reported that Polis had a “family office” called Jovian Holdings.

Because Jovian Holdings is not actually a revenue generating business, anything Polis pays into it may be a deductible “business loss”. ProPublica reported that “the term family office has a mom and pop feel, but it is actually part of the infrastructure for protecting the fortunes of the ultra-rich, developing an investment strategy and tax to estate and estate planning, including concierge services. ”

Ordinary taxpayers can’t even deduct the cost of TurboTax, but Polis had someone on their payroll who specializes in “maximizing cost savings both operationally and with all tax authorities.” Did the Polis family office pay for private planes and stays in luxury hotels? The public deserves to know.

To be fair, President Donald Trump (who has also aggressively avoided taxes and tried to hide it) made the tax code fairer for ordinary Americans by increasing the standard deduction and the child tax credit. , but this bill also benefited the rich by keeping the earnings. made by the middle class out of proportion to the tax benefits enjoyed by the rich.

If Polis is to play the “I pleaded for lower taxes” card, then he has to be specific, honest and much more aggressive in pushing for reform. And no, cutting income taxes and imposing property and sales taxes on the middle class is not the solution – you just have to find a way to make the rich pay federal income tax.

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