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Tuesday, February 27, 2024
Feb. 27, 2024

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Camden: Hunter Biden has lots of company

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As a person who has always paid taxes on time, I was initially angered when hearing Hunter Biden was getting a plea deal on two charges of not paying his taxes on time.

Then I was puzzled. Then I was struck with a marketing idea.

I heard about the plea bargain on the satellite radio version of cable news during a drive up to the Seattle suburbs.

Talking heads, which I couldn’t see as this was radio, were describing the proposal the president’s son faces and debating whether it was a sweetheart deal based on his filial status or one tougher than average for the offenses involved.

As I was riding, not driving, I checked news accounts of the deal on my smartphone and discovered that the U.S. attorney’s report of the pending plea deal said Biden had earned “more than $1.5 million” during 2017 and 2018 and failed to pay “more than $100,000.” He later paid the amount he owed, claiming the delay was during a time when he was in the throes of drug addiction and didn’t realize he hadn’t paid it.

Clearly, he was on some powerful stuff.

Mentioning I paid my taxes on time for more than 50 years of earning wages is not meant to be self-congratulatory or a sign of great patriotism. For most of those years, I worked for someone else whose job it was to deduct taxes before giving me a paycheck or direct depositing my wages every couple of weeks.

But because of this, I — and perhaps many workers in similar circumstances — have little sympathy for people who get into trouble after choosing not to pay their taxes. It’s an option we aren’t afforded.

Considering that Biden was willing to admit temporarily stiffing the feds for at least $200,000 and will be charged only with a pair of misdemeanors, I was coming down on the side of the talking heads saying Biden was getting off easy. He had made millions and could have spent a small fraction of that to hire an accountant to do his taxes.

But then a commercial came on.

In it, a person named “Ron” said he was afraid of the IRS because he hadn’t paid taxes for five years and owed more than $50,000. He called the tax consultation service sponsoring the ad, and they worked out a deal and now he was happy as a clam.

Another commercial came on, from another tax consultation service, who assured listeners who owe money to the IRS that they shouldn’t believe the claims of that first tax consultation service. Instead they should call this other service, whether the unpaid tax debt is “$5,000, $50,000 or $500,000” and get help to solve their problems.

Clearly there are enough people who don’t pay their taxes on time, or don’t pay them at all, that the practice can support multiple services designed to get the miscreants out of some level of trouble and accountability. Biden may be on the high end of tax scofflaws but is hardly an outlier. He might indeed be facing a higher, or at least more public, penalty because of his last name.

Perhaps Biden could use his notoriety as an advantage in the competition among tax consulting services by becoming a celebrity spokesman. The commercial would almost write itself:

“Hi. I’m Hunter Biden. You may have heard that I forgot to pay the IRS money for several years because I was on drugs. I was late paying it back and the Justice Department spent five years investigating me. My picture was all over the news, I had to go to court, hire a bunch of lawyers and pay a fine. If you don’t want to be the subject of a DOJ investigation and be all over the news, hire USA Tax Fix-it Experts instead of a bunch of lawyers …”

He should, however, hire someone to make sure the taxes are paid on the fees he gets for the commercial.

Oops

“Protest City: Portland’s Summer of Rage,” a recently published book of photos of the 2020 demonstrations in that city, got a favorable review in last week’s edition of the New Yorker.

Marring the presentation, however, was an initial description that said the book “captures the unrest in the Oregon capital.” Folks in Salem were no doubt surprised.

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