A Watchdog.org story claiming New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie avoided tax liabilities on a significant amount of money designated for official use is rapidly gaining traction in new media. Curiously, the story goes all the way back to former Gov. James Florio as an example of a sitting governor who paid taxes on the funds. That leaves out several other governors over the 35 year history of the allowance.
Gov. Chris Christie failed to report as income or pay taxes on $380,000 in expense allowances he received from the state, according to a New Jersey Watchdog examination of Treasury data and the governor’s tax returns.
The allowance itself isn’t news, and has been written about since 2011.
Gov. Chris Christie quietly receives an expense account of $95,000 a year and doesn’t have to tell anyone how it’s spent.
Did Christie Todd Whitman pay taxes on it? For now, we don’t know and the report does seem a bit sketchy as to whether or not the liability is accurate. The allowance is $95,000 a year and the item clearly goes out of its way to combine dollars over christie’s tenure to get the higher number. It may indeed be an issue for Christie, who has yet to respond. However, it also shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that competing GOP campaigns opposition research arms are geared up and the item comes just as Christie launched a new effort to talk about Social Security reform.
Christie’s spokesman is pushing back hard. “The report on NJ watchdog is categorically false and irresponsible. The expense account, which has been provided to every governor in recent memory, is not salary and isn’t kept by the Governor as income,” Kevin Roberts explains. “It is a discretionary fund that is used for business purposes, including costs associated with official events at Drumthwacket, the official residence. Unused fund balances have traditionally been returned to the State treasury and not kept as income, and that has been the case for every year under Governor Christie. As such, it is not required to appear on his income tax filings, consistent with IRS rules.”
Christie visited New Hampshire giving a speech on the topic on Tuesday, making it the perfect time for another campaign to try and step on his headlines. Whatever the case, clearly the race for the 2016 GOP nomination is now in full swing and candidates are swinging at one another.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is betting his political future on a big speech on entitlement reform to restore buzz for a potential presidential campaign — even though his polling numbers have suffered in recent months.