Commentary: Palin, Begich, Murkowski have tax questions to answer

This editorial appeared in The Anchorage Daily News.

President Obama's appointees aren't the only public figures facing uncomfortable questions about their income taxes. Some of Alaska's most powerful elected officials have had their own issues. Alaska U.S. Sen. Mark Begich gets credit for acknowledging that he has had to pay back taxes. As far as we know, he has corrected his returns and paid everything he owed. We still don't know why it took a city audit for him to realize that his use of a city-owned car constituted a taxable benefit, since it has long been understood in the private sector that any personal use of an employer-provided car is taxable.

The same issue has arisen with Gov. Sarah Palin, who drives a state-owned car.

Her spokeswoman referred questions about the car to administration Commissioner Annette Kreitzer. In an e-mail to the Daily News Wednesday, Kreitzer said: "Any employees using State vehicles are either covered under the IRS commuter rule or are being taxed on the percentage of personal use of the vehicle. Governor Palin and all others using state vehicles are complying with these rules."

We still don't know how Gov. Palin defines "personal use" and how much taxable benefit she derives from her state car.

Recently, after months of questions, Gov. Palin has indicated she will pay income taxes on the state "travel" reimbursements she collects while staying at her home in Wasilla. She declines to say more than that. We still don't know how much back tax she accrued on this point, and what penalties and interest were incurred.

The Daily News asked her office last week for updates on other tax questions but has yet to receive an answer.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Anchorage Daily News.